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Norman Atlantic: criminal trial starts 4 years from the disaster

At exactly 4 years from the fire and shipwreck of the Norman Atlantic, here it comes the official news that the Prosecutor’s office of Bari has finally requested the indictment for the 32 suspects (30 individuals and two companies) accused of the disaster occurred off the Albanian coast in the night between 27 and 28 December 2014, which caused 31 victims, including 12 confirmed deaths and 19 bodies never found, and the serious injury of 64 of the approximately 500 passengers, all remained on board in stormy sea for two days and beyond, and that even today they have not overcome the trauma of that terrible experience.

No fire alarm was issued, no warning from the crew, and the passengers awoke at night between coulters of smoke and panic scenes. A panic which released – in many – the worst in human race. The first to abandon ship were some of the crew, dropping quickly the only usable lifeboat, with just a third of its precious capacity of persons. During the retrieve of the passengers using the baskets lowered from helicopters, others have literally attacked the rescuers, with bites and punches, just to be saved first, others refused to leave priority to women and children. Some people threw himself into the water to escape the flames, and was quickly swallowed by the waves of the icy December sea.

The news of the signing of the request for judgment had been circulating for some weeks now, but reaching the 4th anniversary, it comes an official confirmation that the prosecutors have requested the criminal trial for the legal representative of Visemar, the company that owns the ferry, Carlo Visentini, the two legal representatives of the Greek Anek Lines, charterer of the ship, the commander Argilio Giacomazzi and 26 members of the crew. After confirming the serious responsibilities and negligence that emerged in the probationary phase, the suspects are accused, for various reasons, of crimes of negligent cooperation in shipwreck, culpable homicide and multiple culpable injuries in addition to numerous violations on safety and the navigation code.

The date of the first hearing with the judge of the preliminary hearing has not yet been set, but we already know that – in order to overcome the logistical difficulties of the court of Bari – the Bitonto bunker room was again made available, in which we will stand for this part of the criminal trial.

Our team “Giustizia per Norman Atlantic” has represented so far about fifty people whose lives were devastated in various ways in the shipping incident, as passengers or as family members of victims or missing, and for many of those we lauched the multi-milion civil case running in Bari, that lately moved a further step in extending the compensation responsabilities to another company of Visemar Group.

For many others, forced by the long waiting and personal difficulties, we were asked to negotiate and close their case with a transaction, but now with the criminal trial pending we are confident that justice will soon be brought to all, even for those that couldn’t wait for a judicial and more fair compensation. New clients have recently joined, to overcome the lack of results they faced in other countries and different strategies.

But for all passengers, more and beyond an economic compensation, the first right to justice is that those who have made so many mistakes will pay with years in prison and companies will be punished with heavy punitive damages, so that this tragedy will prevent the recurrence of disasters in the world of navigation by ferries

The 2019 will now be the year of the Norman Atlantic trial, and we will ensure to make it as productive and effective as possible.

Annunci

Fire emergency in Greece on Anek’s ferry΄El Venizelos’ – ΄ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΟΣ ΒΕΝΙΖΕΛΟΣ΄: ΜΙΑ ΑΚΟΜΗ ΠΥΡΚΑΓΙΑ ΞΕΣΠΑΣΕ ΣΕ ΟΧΗΜΑΤΑΓΩΓΟ ΠΛΟΙΟ ΤΩΝ ΑΝΕΚ LINES

In the night between August the 28th and the 29th 2018 the ship Eleftherios Venizelos, another ferry from Anek Lines, during its travel from Piraeus to Crete with 875 passengers and 141 crew on board, was hit by a serious fire in the garage area, so much that the Captain was forced to declare general emergency and abandonment of the ship.

The emergency operations were not easy and implied the intervent of two firefighting tug boats, ten tenders, 48 firefighters and two emergency teams, as the fire was very quickly expanding from the lower decks and heavy black smoke was inclosing the ship.

The dynamic of the new accident is similar to the disaster of the Norman Atlantic, which as this one, was operating under the flag of the Greek company ANEK: a vehicle parked on board caught fire so that from 12am the board started to send emergency signals to get help from the Coast Guard.

After we assisted dozens of passengers who suffered a devastating experience onboard of the Anek’s ferry Norman Atlantic in the nights of the 28/29 December 2014 where so many lost their life, an all others suffered for their personal safety and for the losses of their personal belongings and for which we already submitted to the Civil Court of Bari our law suit against Anek and Visemar (see our web page on such case: https://giustiziapernormanatlantic.wordpress.com/), we face another case with a fire that broke out in the car deck of a ferry.

The emergency operations on the Eleftherios Venizelos went on during all night and the ship was at the end escorted back into Piraeus and all the passengers were disambarked only during the morning of the 29 August.

Media sources report that the ship has had many problems operating so much that since 2014 it has a discontinuous use, with some short-term rentals (including one to the Greek government for the transportation of migrants from the islands) and sporadic income in service as a replace of other ships Anek stopped for repairs. This raises questions in relation to safety of the ship. These questions will be adressed by with a specific complaint we will file to authorities that have already opened an investigation to find out the causes of the fire and the reasons for the lack of containment of the flames in the garage by the drenching system, providing all the trial expert’s reports on Norman Atlantic about critical issues on fires in Ro/Ro ship’s garage open decks. Continua a leggere

28.06.2018 – second hearing in the Norman Atlantic civil case

Yesterday morning, in Bari Courthouse, the second hearing was held in the civil case brought by our legal team against ANEK AE and Visemar di Navigazione, following the filing of the supplementary memorandum ordered by the judge to specify in detail the damage items and factual elements for each passenger.

Once again the counterpart lawyers have raised numerous and insidious ritual and procedural exceptions, concerning the forfeiture – statute of limitations of the compensation action and rights recalling the Athens convention and the reg.CE 392/2009, in the attempt to guarantee a maximum limit to all compensation for passengers, as  established by the European Community standard, while we immediatly replied on the lateness of these procedural exceptions, on the inapplicability of the CE limits to compensation in the presence (as in our case) of criminal offenses and serious fault / willful misconduct by the carrier (or its employees), requiring finally the judge to authorize the extension of the civil case also against another company of the visemar group (Visemar Trasporti Srl) as owner of the ship and responsible – economically jointly  with the other two, for all compensation, in order to have a more adequate guarantee of solvency, taking into account the high request for compensation also for punitive damages that we proposed.

The judge decided to limit the topic of the discussion only on this last point, considered preliminary to others, and kept the case file in reserve in order to decide whether to authorize the call of Visemar Transport or not;in such eventuality the Court will set a deadline for notifying the deeds to this additional company, establishing a new hearing, or will set directly to the next hearing assigning to the parties an interlocutory term for the filing of replies on the further exceptions, as well as for the articulation of the investigations, filing of documents and certifications.

In the meantime the burned ship has been moved from the cruise dock to the entrance dock of the port of Bari, constituting a gloomy entry/exit ticket for all ships – but hopefully also a severe warning about accident prevention, where it will remain – always under seizure – pending the start of the criminal trial that may require further technical examination of the experts.

This last aspect, unfortunately, has undergone a further slowdown as the criminal court of Bari has recently been declared unfit and part of the hearing and the Public Prosecutor’s activities have moved temporarily under big “camping tents“, in conditions of extreme discomfort, and a recent government’s decree stopped all hearing until the end of the summer; however, we are confident that – after the conclusion of the preliminary investigations – the request for indictment for all the investigated is not far away, and this will certainly represent a decisive turning point for the rights and expectations of passengers and victims.

The investigation phase has been closed; Norman Atlantic approaches the criminal trial

norman atlantic chiuse indagini preliminari processo penale
A big step towards the criminal trial that will bring finally light and justice to the Norman Atlantic marittime disaster; great satisfaction from our legal team, not only because we are approaching the trial, but also because the Public Prosecutor has clearly listened to the complaints of our clients, adding to the accused list all the crew members who did not provide the necessary assistance to passengers. There was no loading plan for the heavy trucks, and the fire started to develop from one of the refrigerated trucks, because there were not enough power outlets and the truck drivers kept their engines running to cool the goods. A hypothesis that had already made its way in the days following the fire, as a malpractice prohibited by navigation regulations. And there were other and numerous negligence, both in the risk assessment and during the evacuation, with extreme disorganization and several crew members who left the ship way before the passengers were safe. Now the Bari prosecutor, after 3 years close investigations, adding all the crew members to the accused, mainly for our multiple reports of severe complaints from our clients for abandonment of the ship; 30 people and two companies, Visemar and Anek Lines, now face the criminale trial for the shipwreck of the Norman Atlantic ferry, which took place off the Albanian coast on the night of December 28 2014 after a fire broke out on board that cost the lives of 31 people, including some Syrian migrants, even minors, and the wounding of others 64.

All the subjects under investigation are liable for involuntary cooperation in shipwreck, culpable homicide and multiple culpable injuries. Numerous violations on security and the navigation code are also contested. To the original 18 people already in the file of the p.p’s office of Bari, Ettore Cardinali and Federico Perrone Capano, they added others 12: they are the legal representative of Visemar, society owner of the ferry, Carlo Visentini, the two legal representatives of the Greek Anek Lines, charterer of the Norman Atlantic, in addition to the commander Argilio Giacomazzi and 26 crew members. 6 of them also contend that they had left the ship avoiding to help passengers way before they were safe. A series of negligences emerged in the expert’s report of the Port Authority of Bari, above all on the assessment of the risks and on the organization of the operations of evacuation of the ship, which would have caused the shipwreck and the death of some passengers. About the causes of the shipwreck we already ran trough a probationary incident phase that lasted about two years with numerous accesses aboard the wreck, moored since February 2015 in the port of Bari, and still subjected to seizure.

The experts report about a ineffective firefighting system and unprepared crew. The fire supposedly started from a refrigerated truck running a diesel engine during navigation. Furthermore, according to the accusatory hypothesis, a plan to load the 128 TIR on board (of which about 60 refrigerators) was missing, arranged on the bridges in an approximate manner, without respecting the distance between the vehicles and the availability of elettric power, forcing hauliers to keep the engines running. And both the captain and carrier companies were full aware of this malpractice. We are also waiting to call accusation about the reason why the captain and the shipping companies have decided to prevent the intervention of the Albanian tugs to wait the arrival from Bari of the rescue, forcing the passengers to fear for their life two day on a ship adrift in flames and in the stormy sea.

In the next few weeks we will update all our clients with more detail on the following steps, about the civil case running in Bari, relations between civil and criminal proceedings, and strategies of our team in order to bring justice and compensation to all.

Le indagini sul Rina, dal Jolly Nero approdano al Norman Atlantic

L’onda lunga del jolly Nero travolge il Rina, e la macchia si allarga fino a Bari ed al disastro Norman Atlantic
http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2017/04/19/jolly-nero-il-rina-non-e-piu-intoccabile-due-dirigenti-ai-domiciliari-per-false-certificazioni-sulla-sicurezza-delle-navi/3531856/

Incidente probatorio Norman Atlantic – i risultati della perizia

Nel procedimento penale Rg 20598/14 sul disastro marittimo del Norman Atlantic abbiamo finalmente raggiunto la fase conclusiva dell’indagine svolta dai periti nominati dal tribunale di Bari nell’ambito dell’incidente probatorio diretto dal Giudice delle Indagini Preliminari dott.ssa Alessandra Piliego. periti nominati dal tribunale di Bari nell’ambito dell’incidente probatorio diretto dal Giudice delle Indagini Preliminari dott.ssa Alessandra Piliego.

A partire dal 27 marzo 2017, ogni giorno e per una settimane di fila, si è tenuta udienza all’interno dell’aula bunker di Bitonto, onde consentire al collegio peritale di illustrare i risultati della loro indagine e – in una trattazione divisa per blocchi (caricamento e rizzaggio mezzi, incendio, vdr ed apparati di bordo, gestione emergenza, abbandono nave etc.) – i periti si sottoporranno all’esame delle parti per le varie osservazioni, integrazioni, contestazioni e domande di approfondimento.

Le udienze si sono aperte con le prime schermaglie sul tema dell’ordine di esame e controesame ai periti da parte dei vari difensori. La norma processuale (art. 401, V comma cpp) prevede infatti che le prove sono acquisite secondo le forme ed ordine di assunzione stabilite per il dibattimento, e dunque si deve iniziare l’esame con le proprie domande ai periti chi ha richiesto l’incidente probatorio (nella fattispecie i Pubblici Ministeri), seguendo con il controesame da parte degli avvocati difensori dei 18 soggetti indagati. A seguire i difensori delle parti offese (noi), che possono rivolgere domande ed osservazioni solo indirettamente ed attraverso il giudice, il quale, se le ritiene pertinenti, le formula ai periti (in quanto, durante questa fase processuale, le parti offese non sono ancora parti processuali vere e proprie, qualità che assumono solo nel momento in cui viene ammessa la loro costituzione di parte civile, dopo la richiesta di rinvio a giudizio), assieme alle domande di chiarimento che lei stessa riterrà opportuno svolgere in chiusura dell’esame. Ovviamente “parlare” per ultimi rappresenta un vantaggio processuale non indifferente, tanto che durante il dibattimento vero e proprio, l’avvocato difensore dell’imputato è in genere garantita sempre l’ultima “parola”. In questa circostanza tuttavia, nonostante la protesta dei difensori degli indagati di poter intervenire dopo la serie di domande degli avvocati di parte offesa, il GIP ha giustamente ritenuto di mantenere l’ordine previsto dal codice, anche se, con grande disponibilità verso tutti, ha consentito una occasionale inversione di questo ordine per esigenze di alcuni difensori di parte lesa, e comunque ha garantito la possibilità per tutti, PM e difensori degli indagati di tornare su alcuni eventuali punti toccati da domande delle parti civili.

Nella serie di udienze consecutive si è iniziato da una breve e sintetica presentazione, da parte dei periti, delle quasi 700 pagine della loro relazione e sulle loro conclusioni sull’incendio, sulle cause di probabile innesco, tempi di sviluppo e modalità di propagazione, per poi sottoporsi alle domande della Procura, partendo dalla fase di caricazione mezzi (ed è emersa, come vedremo, una certa pressione di Anek sull’equipaggio della NA per imbarcare un numero di camion frigo in modo eccessivo rispetto alla disponibilità di prese, e sempre senza preavviso), delle operazioni di rizzaggio (ovverosia di aggancio dei veicoli pesanti alle paratie a terra, per assicurare la stabilita del carico e bilanciamento nave, eseguite in modo approssimativo ed assolutamente inadeguato, ammassando i mezzi e, sopratutto gli autotreni, troppo vicini uno all’altro, continuando le operazioni di rizzaggio addirittura anche in navigazione, senza comunque portarle a termine), di collegamento dei camion frigo alle prese di corrente (poiché è stato chiarito come sia severamente vietato, durante la navigazione, alimentare il gruppo frigo dei veicoli da trasporto con vano di carico a temperatura controllata, attraverso i motorini diesel che, invece, mantengono autonomamente la refrigerazione durante la circolazione su strada dei mezzi, e quindi questi, una volta imbarcati, vanno disattivati e allacciati alla rete elettrica della nave), il numero delle prese e dei cavi disponibili a bordo (dando evidenza della presenza di più camion frigo rispetto alle prese e cavi di collegamento disponibili sulla nave, il che certamente da evidenza che alcuni autotreni -almeno 3 sul ponte 4- non erano stati collegati all’impianto elettrico della nave e quindi presumibilmente avevano il sistema di refrigerazione con motore a scoppio in funzione durante la navigazione) e molti altri elementi che dimostrano una spregiudicata approssimazione e generale violazione delle norme Solas e del codice SMS alla base della tragedia (parlano di insieme di “errori umani” e di “vistose e intrinseche debolezze” sotto il profilo ingegneristico come cause del disastro) sopratutto per quanto riguarda l’approntamento della nave e del suo carico al viaggio.

Cosa che, d’altronde, era ben nota visto che i nostri clienti lo avevano con molta chiarezza riferito e denunciato sin da subito: gli autotreni erano stati stipati nei ponti garage in modo tale che alcuni autisti erano stati costretti ad uscire dai finestrini non riuscendo ad aprire gli sportelli, non allineati ne agganciati alle “margherite” di fissaggio a terra per il rizzaggio, ed infatti i periti hanno riscontrato che la Safety Way (la via di passaggio per uscire, per eseguire i giri di ronda ed eventuali controlli oltre che come via di fuga) era parzialmente impegnata da alcuni mezzi e lasciava un angusto spazio di circa 40 cm per passare, rendendo oltretutto particolarmente difficoltoso il check sugli allarmi che sono poi scattati in plancia (sopratutto per un marinaio corpulento come Nardulli, che infatti non ha portato a termine la perlustrazione ma si è limitato a comunicare in plancia che il fumo rilevato dai sensori proveniva da un motore a scoppio in funzione), la dotazione e settaggio degli allarmi antincendio (e la loro funzione di rilievo calore/fumo che poteva essere attivata in modalità and/or), la dotazione, capacita e funzionamento degli impianti anti incendio passivi sulla nave (porte tagliafuoco, paratie A60) e di quelli attivi (sprinkler e drenching). Su questo punto, i periti hanno anche accertato che il sistema drencher, quello che si può attivare per zone di divisione della nave come sistema di estinzione massiva ad acqua sui ponti cargo, deve esser aperto manualmente ed in non più di due zone contemporaneamente (mentre nella fattispecie venne avviato, per negligenza, su almeno tre zone (diminuendo quindi la portata e capacita di estinzione dei getti) e su una zona errata (sul ponte 3 e non sul 4).

Secondo la perizia, l’origine dell’incendio si è invece originato proprio sul deck 4, e con ogni probabilità da un motorino a scoppio a servizio di uno dei camion frigo imbarcati, visto che, come spiegato in aula, questi compressori sono diesel raffreddati ad aria, e quando il veicolo è fermo tendono a surriscaldare molto rapidamente, con conseguente e concreto rischio di generare incendi. Di qui il rigoroso divieto di tenerli disattivati durante la navigazione e l’obbligo per tutti i mezzi con carico refrigerato, di allacciarsi alla rete elettrica della nave per garantire il controllo della temperatura sul vano di carico alimentare, o il normale funzionamento dei diversi motorini a servizio (es. per insufflare aria nel trasporto di pesce vivo).

Continua a leggere

Delayed of a week the start of hearings – differito di una settimana l’inizio udienze

The defense lawyers of some of the investigated have informed the Judge that they will join the strike proclaimed by the Union of Criminal Chambers and will refrain from hearings scheduled from the 20 to 24 March 2017. For this reason, the start of the hearings scheduled in the Norman Atlantic trial from March 20, 2017 has been postponed to the following week.


Gli avvocati difensori di alcuni tra gli indagati hanno comunicato al GIP che aderiranno allo sciopero dei penalisti proclamato dalla Unione Camere Penali e si asterranno dalle udienze nei giorni dal 20 al 24 marzo 2017. Per questo motivo l’inizio delle udienze nell’incidente probatorio sul Norman Atlantic previste dal 20 marzo 2017 è stato differito di una settimana.