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Seconda udienza preliminare 21.05.2019 – ammesse tutte le parti civili nel processo Norman Atlantic

TGR 21 maggio 2019 – Norman Atlantic, parenti vittime e sopravvissuti ammessi al processo penale

Dear Clients, on Tuesday May 21 2019 the second preliminary hearing of the criminal trial on the Norman Atlantic disaster was held in the Bitonto bunker hearingroom.

Let’s start by saying that ALL our clients were admitted as a civil party, and that this important result was by no means obvious or automatic or simple to obtain.

In fact, in the time from the previous hearing, in which we filed our request for the appearance in court, and this last hearing, the judge had assigned to the defendants an intermediate term for the filing of written memoirs with which to illustrate their exceptions and objections to the request to enter the process by passengers and family members, but also organizations and associations. Well, we can say that surely the lawyers (of Anek above all), have not been spared at all (and it must be said that they could also have done it with greater esteem and respect for the victims, as for example Costa Crociere did in the process on the sinking of the Concordia, which raised formal exceptions only against the cities and associations but not also about the constitution of a civil part of the passengers), but on the contrary they have once again (as in the civil trial) put into play every possible and imaginable procedural question, constraint of national and community legislation and of captious exception to try to prevent at any cost the request of the victims to participate in the criminal trial as parties in all aspects, and not only as spectators. Constituting as a civil party, in fact, allows the injured party from a committed crime, in addition to making a request to the judge for compensation on their damage suffered in relation to such conduct, but also play an important role as a private prosecution alongside the public one, exercised by the public prosecutor’s office, in the common search for truth and justice through the conviction of all those responsible for the disaster. Needless to say, the army of defendants’ lawyers would have preferred to have the trial without our unfriendly presence in the courtroom, and already the first heated controversy took place in the courtroom among lawyers, in a clearly nervousness due to the gravity of the charges, on one side, and the delicacy of the positions and the compensatory values ​​requested on behalf of the clients, on the other.

In their memoirs and subsequent discussion in the hearing room, the defenders of the Greek shipowner, but not only them, tried to enforce the rules of Reg. (EC) 392/2009 in the criminal trial which, as you now by know, provides (art 16, point 3 of the Athens Convention) a two-year preclusional term, which led us prudently to initiate a civil lawsuit in Bari in December 2016, thus claiming, in a very insidious way, that today it would not be possible for us to validly transfer the compensation action from the civil to the criminal trial, due to some alleged forfeiture and other (alleged) defects matured during the civil trial. Nevertheless the defendants’ defenses claimed that the nature and legitimacy of the requests was not adequately demonstrated and documented.

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PRIMA UDIENZA PENALE – 06 maggio 2019

On May 6, 2019, the first preliminary hearing of the Norman Atlantic criminal case was held in the Bitonto bunker room near Bari. The large number of trial parties (public prosecutors and consultants, lawyers for the many defendants, civil lawyers and members of the harbor master’s office, ministries officies and security, as well as journalists and press) made it necessary to move the hearing to a separate branch of the Bari courthouse, which therefore on each day provided for in the calendar set by the judge, will be opened and dedicated specifically to the needs of our process. The only defendant present in the courtroom was Carlo Visentini, owner of the Norman Atlantic’s company, while no member of the crew or the Greek company decided to attend the first court hearing, despite the regularity of the notifications, and therefore the criminal trial against them will continue without any delay, in absentia.

Even among the victims no one was present, but this is obviously due to the fact that for the most part they are people living far from Bari, mainly Greece and Albania, but also because of the fact that these are the first bars of the preliminary hearing , characterized by formal procedural activity and of little substantial interest for the people who were on board the ship. Furthermore – as we expected – the families of the victims and the passengers who filed to be a civil part in the criminal trial are very few compared to the number of passengers and injured parties, but this is mainly due to the fact that most victims have concluded transactions or have acted and continue to claim damages in front of the civil court.

Our pool of lawyers, on May 6th, has instead formalized at the beginning of the hearing the request for the establishment of a civil party claim in the criminal trial, for all our clients, in this way transferring the entire claim for damages – pursuant to art. 75 Italian Criminal Procedure Code – from the civil court office directly in the criminal trial, having already filed,  as you know, a previous case within two years from the claim, in favor of all our clients and in a civil court, to avoid the possible two-year forfeiture of the right to compensation, envisaged by EC regulation 392/2009; when – on the next criminal hearing (set for May 21, 2019) – the civil action claim will be accepted and declared by the judge, this will automatically lead to the interruption of the previous civil proceeding, ritually registered to the role and pending at the Civil Court of Bari RG 20070/2016 – dott. Ruffino Antonio, next hearing scheduled for 11.28.2019. Continua a leggere

Green light for the NORMAN ATLANTIC’s Civil case in Bari

The civil Court of Bari

Following the last hearing in the NORMAN ATLANTIC’s civil case running in the court of Bari, the judge had kept the file in reserve on the many exceptions raised by the counterpart lawyers to support the ineffectiveness and illegitimacy of the notifications and of the whole trial action; on the contrary, by order of the judge dott.ssa SIMONE RAFFAELLA, the Court has instead decided to proceed further in the case and has accepted our request to extend the claim for 26 million euro against VISEMAR COSTRUZIONI, owner of the “naked” hull of the Norman Atlantic ship, then leased to Visemar Navigazione and in turn from this rented to the Greek company ANEK AE. Following the summons for the third party’s call in the trial, the first company will then be jointly held with the others to pay all damages to passengers.

The next hearing of the trial is scheduled for 03/28/2019 09:30 AM FOR THE CALL OF THE THIRD COMPANY.

In the meantime, the criminal trial – passed the phase of the probative incident that has verified the presence of serious responsibilities and malfunctions as with the expert report ordered by the preliminary investigation judge – is undergoing a decisive delay in the start of the trial phase due to structural problems in the court of justice building of Bari; in fact, starting from the end of July, is being declared the stop of all criminal cases with not a few organizational problems for the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is now without a proper building to celebrate the trials.

We will keep you up-to-date on upcoming developments in civil hearings and criminal cases.


LUCE VERDE PER IL PROCESSO CIVILE A BARI

A seguito della ultima udienza nella causa civile sul naufragio della NORMAN ATLANTIC presso il tribunale di Bari, il giudice aveva trattenuto il fascicolo in riserva sulle molte eccezioni sollevate dai legali di controparte per sostenere la nullità delle notifiche e della azione processuale; al contrario con ordinanza del giudice dott.ssa SIMONE RAFFAELLA, il Tribunale ha invece disposto procedersi oltre nel processo ed ha accolto la ns richiesta di estendere la domanda risarcitoria per 26 milioni di euro circa nei confronti della VISEMAR COSTRUZIONI, proprietaria dello scafo “nudo” della m/n Norman Atlantic, poi concessa in locazione a Visemar Navigazione e a sua volta da questa noleggiata alla compagnia greca ANEK AE. A seguito della citazione per la chiamata del terzo nel processo, anche la prima società sarà quindi tenuta in solido con le altre al risarcimento dei danni a favore dei passeggeri.

La prossima udienza per la prosecuzione del giudizio è fissata al 28/03/2019 09:30 PER CHIAMATA DEL TERZO.

Nel frattempo il giudizio penale – superata la fase dell’incidente probatorio che ha accertato la presenza di gravi responsabilità e malfunzionamenti con la perizia disposta dal giudice delle indagini preliminari – sta subendo un deciso ritardo nell’avvio della fase dibattimentale a causa dei problemi strutturali nel palazzo di giustizia di Bari; di fatto a partire da fine luglioo’è stato lo stop di tutte le cause penali e non pochi problemi organizzativi per la Procura, che si ritrova senza aule per celebrare i processi. Vi terremo aggiornati a breve sui prossimi sviluppi delle udienze civili e della causa penale.

Norman Atlantic: il punto della situazione a tre anni dalla tragedia

Today, December 28, 2017 falls on the third anniversary of the shipwreck and fire of the Norman Atlantic, and all those involved in the tragedy, can not but remember this date, and from our side we must briefly make a point of the situation about the status of trials and compensation.

  • The criminal trial is struggling to start, despite the probationary phase was closed in April 2017 and the report from the experts appointed by the Court of preliminary investigation of Bari has ascertained the actual existence of many malfunctions on the ship, failure to comply with the emergency procedures by crew and the very serious responsibilities of both Visemar (owner of the ship) and Anek (carrier). We know that the Public Prosecutors assigned to the Norman Atlantic case, in recent months have also dealt with some large and demanding proceedings on organized crime in Puglia, and we are therefore convinced that within the beginning of the new year it will finally be notified the request to trial to all the investigated subjects, starting the expected criminal trial phase, which will lead truth and justice to the victims. As already happened in all the trials on naval disasters that we have followed and continue to follow.
  • Negotiations: concerning on the compensation side, negotiations have reached a level of offers that has been considered by many passengers to be very far from the rightful expectations, even though many have been forced to accept these offers, due to economic difficulties in they were in, especially in Greece. We know that from the ascertaining of liability troughout the criminal case, we will avoid the compensation ceilings that so far have allowed the shipowners to keep the negotiations on a low level, and therefore the negotiations profile remains open to new possible results.
  • The civil trial: in December last year the civil lawsuit started, to avoid incurring the decadence that the European legislation introduced into our legal system, forcing passengers to act judicially within two years from a maritime accident that involved a compensation right, to avoid forfeiture. Defined by the newspapers a record process, the case of the Norman is the second major civil case in the maritime field in Italy: between our team “Justice for the Norman Atlantic” and the team formed by the Turinese Ambrosio & Commodo, Bona & Oliva and the Greeks Pavlakis-Moschos, two separate civil actions were started in 2017 at the Court of Bari, for a total request of almost ten million euro. The first hearing in our trial took place on 24.10.2017, and the judge Dr Simoni Raffaella has kept the file in reserve to decide on the many exceptions raised by the counterparts about the regularity of notifications, passive legitimacy and many other preliminary issues. Just a few days ago we received the order by the court which rejected all the insidious exceptions of Anek’s lawyers regarding the notifications and simply ordered the integration of the deeds with the facts acquired as a result of the probative phase from the criminal procedure (on the dynamic of incident and responsibility of the carrier) as well as about the specification of the damage divided for each position of the passengers and / or family members of the victims, then fixing the case for its continuation at the next hearing on June 26th 2018.

The first confrontation in court with the lawyers of Anek and Visemar, therefore, has definitely closed in favor of the victims and the civil case, pending the developments on the criminal procedures front, will be able to take place regularly in the next months in its preliminary phase. Continua a leggere

Documento Newspaper on our client’s testimonies

An article from Documento newspaper in Greece, recently took into account our legal Team collegue Mr. Kriton Metaxopoulos and some of our client’s interview.

Numerous faults, omissions and violations of basic safety rules are detected in the report on the causes of the tragedy of the Norman Atlantic shipwreck from the experts appointed by the Italian Justice which is currently displayed in «Documento» newspaper. At the same time, people who experienced the events of December 28th 2014, talk to «Documento» newspaper and describe the dramatic moments they experienced in the Adriatic, where they literally faced death.

The appointed experts reported that the ship was overloaded with vehicles and especially refrigerator trucks. The results showed that the on board vehicles were more than the available sockets. In this context, many refrigerator trucks had their engines working while the ship was on board. Furthermore, the experts concluded that the fire caused by a vehicle engine/machine, a fact that may be related to the operation of the engines the on board refrigerator trucks. It is mentioned that the inadequacy of the available sockets on the ship compared with the number of refrigerator trucks became subject of the debate among captain Argillio Giaromazzi, ship-owner Argillio Giaromazzi and representative of ANEK, few hours before the fatal incident.  It is also noted that due to overload of the ship, the vehicles in parking lots were almost stuck with each other.

According to the appointed experts, the construction of the ship, the arrangement of its inner spaces and the time required for the activation of the ship’s fire-alarm system were the basic factors that the fire impossible to be extinguished on time.

Mr. Kriton Metaxopoulos, the lawyer who represents families of victims of the Norman Atlantic shipwreck along with Italian lawyers, mentioned in Documento newspaper the following: ‘’The facts resulted from questioning procedure until today and basically the experts’ findings confirm all the allegations and arguments of both families of the victims and tragedy survivors. In any case, according to my opinion, there is no doubt about the civil and criminal liability of the defendants’’.

Survivors’ Testimonies

  • Mr. Ioannis Vassalos (passenger): ‘’There was no plan and the crew was not on its duty positions.  The situation was out of control.’’
  • Mr. Olivier Coissard (French passenger): ‘’There were such high temperatures that our shoes melted and our bags got burnt.’’
  • Mr. Evangelos Tsoukis (passenger): ‘’Every one of us acted spontaneously. […] There was no coordinated action or any information by the crew…’’
  • Mr. Leonidas Konstantinidis (truck driver): ‘’We were trapped and fire was getting closer to us. The only option seemed to be the sea’’.

Unloading of the cars

adviceUnloading of cars from the bridge 2 can hopefully start Wednesday 20 or Thursday, April 21, but the final confirmation will be announced in the coming days.
 The ship is under criminal seizure and therefore, without an authorization from the Court of Bari, passengers are not allowed to go onboard.
 The vehicles, once downloaded, will be temporarily parked in a warehouse and be available for the delivery to the owners, if they are considered recoverable.
All details, name and passport / identity card, of the subjects that will collect the vehicle, must be provided in advance in order to sign a delivery receipt.
 We will return with more details when everything will be ready for unloading and delivery.
The vehicle keys can be handed over to the agent of Anek to Bari:

Spamat snc
Corso A de Tullio 1
Banchina Massi
Bari  70122
Italy
 
Tel: 0039 0805213403-2460249
Mobile 348 6562093
 
e-mail
spamatbari@spamat.t
web: www.spamat.it

Lo scarico degli autoveicoli dal ponte 2 si spera possa iniziare Mercoledì 20 o Giovedì 21, ma la conferma finale verrà comunicata nei prossimi giorni. La nave è sotto sequestro penale e pertanto, in assenza di una autorizzazione da parte del Tribunale di Bari, ai passeggeri non è permesso accedere a bordo. I veicoli, una volta scaricati, saranno temporaneamente parcheggiati in un magazzino e messi a disposizione dei proprietari per la consegna, ove siano considerati recuperabili. Tutti i dettagli, nominativo e passaporto/carta d’identità, delle persone che ritireranno il veicolo devono essere forniti prima del ritiro e dovrà essere sottoscritta una ricevuta di consegna. Ritorneremo in argomento con ulteriori dettagli quando sarà tutto pronto per lo sbarco e la consegna. Le chiavi dei veicoli possono essere consegnate all’agente di Anek a Bari:
 
Spamat snc
Corso A de Tullio 1
Banchina Massi
Bari  70122
Italy
 
Tel: 0039 0805213403-2460249
Mobile 348 6562093
 
e-mail spamatbari@spamat.t
web: www.spamat.it
 

Unloading of vehicles – Operazioni di smassamento

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Alessandra Guarini of our pool “Justice for Norman Atlantic” attended the meeting held at the offices of the Port Authorities of Bari on January 7, also representing lawyers Cesare Bulgheroni and Massimiliano Gabrielli, supported by our consultant Antonio Scamardella, naval Engineer  and professor of the University of Naples.

At that meeting it was discussed and decided how to conduct the operations of ‘smassamento’ ie clearing the carcasses of cars and trucks still on board the Norman Atlantic. The operations started on January 8 and will continue unabated until the emptying of the bridges from bridge 3 to continue with the upper decks while the operations to empty bridge 2, not affected by the fire, will start after the Judge will decide how to proceed. The first operations are expected – perhaps optimistically – to last in about five weeks. As established at the meeting of 7 January the procedures to empty the NA will take place as follows: the first who will start to go on board will be the forensic experts, who will examine each vehicle before authorizing the landing in order to check for any human remains. Then it will be the turn of the recovery engineers who will proceed with the operations to land the vehicles on board: such vehicles once landed will be left in an area adjacent to the quay of the port where it is moored Norman Atlantic and will be inspected by experts and consultants to verify the damage assessment. After this operations the vehicles will be handed over to a company contracted by Anek and transferred to a storage facility where they will remain available to owners for 60 days. After this deadline they will be scrapped.

We have already adviced Anek about the fate of the vehicles in its custody in which we intimate Anek itself to avoid in any way to dispose or otherwise manage the landed vehicles before they were eventually controlled by us if our Clients will intend to check them.

From the point of view of the course of the criminal investigations we asked to get a copy of the loading document and of the other documentation recovered so far in order to assess the structure of the ship, the loading platform during the departure and the regularity of the certifications . We believe that such documents could help us to understand and they would be used to prove the criminal liability of the shipowner as really serious  so that as a consequence it would allow us to demand compensation for damages exceeding the limits set by the Athens Convention.

Waiting to inform you of further developments in the meantime we invite all our Clients interested in checking the conditions of their cars and their contents to urgently contact us so we can organize the control over them after landing.


L’ Avv. Guarini del pool ‘Giustizia per il Norman Atlantic’ ha partecipato alla riunione tenutasi presso gli uffici della Capitaneria di porto di Bari il 7 gennaio anche  in rappresentanza degli avvocati Cesare Bulgheroni e Massimiliano Gabrielli,  affiancata dal nostro consulente Ingegner Antonio Scamardella dell’Università di Napoli.

In tale riunione si sono discusse le modalità delle operazioni di ‘smassamento’ cioè di sgombero delle carcasse delle auto e dei camion ancora a bordo del Norman Atlantic: le operazioni sono iniziate l’8 gennaio e proseguiranno senza sosta sino allo svuotamento dei ponti a partire dal ponte 3 per proseguire con quelli superiori mentre per il ponte 2, non interessato dall’incendio, occorrerà attendere le decisioni del Giudice. Per le prime operazioni si prevede forse ottimisticamente che ci vorranno circa 5 settimane. Secondo quanto stabilito alla riunione del 7 gennaio le procedure di smassamento si svolgeranno con le seguenti modalità: i primi a salire saranno gli esperti della polizia scientifica, che provvederanno ad esaminare ogni singolo mezzo prima di autorizzarne lo sbarco al fine di  verificare la presenza di eventuali resti umani. Poi saliranno gli addetti al recupero dei mezzi, che una volta sbarcati saranno lasciati in una zona adiacente alla banchina del porto dove é ormeggiato il Norman Atlantic e potranno essere ispezionati dai periti e dai consulenti di parte per la valutazione dei danni. Esaurita questa immediata verifica  i mezzi sbarcati verranno consegnati ad una ditta incaricata da Anek e trasferiti in un deposito di stoccaggio ove rimarranno a disposizione dei proprietari per 60 giorni. Trascorso tale termine saranno rottamati.

Abbiamo già predisposto una diffida ad Anek circa la sorte dei mezzi che ha in custodia e che non potranno in alcun modo essere smaltiti o in altro modo gestiti prima che siano stati da noi eventualmente controllati e periziati ove i nostri assistiti intendano così procedere al riguardo.

Dal punto di vista del corso delle indagini in vista del processo abbiamo chiesto di avere  una copia del piano di carico e della documentazione relativa recuperata sino ad ora al fine di valutare la struttura della nave, il piano di carico alla partenza e la regolarità delle certificazioni. Riteniamo infatti che possano così essere individuati elementi probatori riguardo alla responsabilità penale dell’armatore che ove risultasse grave consentirebbe di richiedere risarcimenti dei danni superiori ai limiti fissati dalla Convenzione di Atene.

In attesa di informarvi sugli ulteriori sviluppi invitiamo intanto tutti i nostri clienti interessati a verificare le condizioni delle loro autovetture e del loro contenuto a urgentemente contattarci di modo da poter organizzare il controllo su di esse dopo lo sbarco.