Archivi tag: criminal

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

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.

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.

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’’.

Depositata la relazione dei periti -Expert’s report is being filed

IMG_7220NORMAN ATLANTIC criminal trial: after a long wait, it has being finally filed the report, drafted from the experts appointed by the GIP almost a year ago; it is a monumental mass of data, which we will have in our hands shortly.

Given the complexity of the investigations conducted on assignment from Bari Criminal Court, the monumental mass of electronic data annexed to the report and the heterogeneity of the various issues that were addressed into consideration from the college of experts, it was agreed to establish a few number of hearings to present the results.

The hearings will be held – March 20 and 31, and from April the 3rd to the 8th of April – in the Bunker Courtroom of Bitonto, considering the need for adequate space because of the large number of parties allegedly involved in the Trial.

As known, in the meantime we launched a 24 million euro civil action in the Court of Bari, and we are fully confident that the results of the criminal investigations will be decisive to ensure the gross negligence of Anek and Visemar in the Norman Atlantic maritime disaster, canceling the indemnity limits for passengers and victims imposed by the Athens Convention of 1974, and push this trial towards the recognition of punitive damages to be borne by the two shipping companies.


Processo penale NORMAN ATLANTIC: dopo una lunga attesa è stata finalmente depositata la perizia redatta dagli esperti nominati dal GIP quasi un anno fa; si tratta di una imponente massa di dati, che avremo a nostra disposizione a breve.

Vista la complessità delle indagini svolte su incarico del Tribunale penale di Bari, della monumentale massa di dati informatici allegati alla relazione e la eterogeneità dei vari aspetti presi in considerazione dal collegio dei periti, si è deciso di fissare un certo numero di udienze per illustrare i risultati.

Le udienze si terranno il 20 ed il 31 marzo e dal 3 all’8 aprile nell’aula Bunker di Bitonto, considerando la necessità di uno spazio adeguato per via dell’alto numero di parti presumibilmente interessate al processo.

Come noto, abbiamo nel frattempo avviato la azione civile da 24 milioni di euro presso il Tribunale di Bari, e siamo del tutto convinti che i risultati delle indagini penali saranno risolutivi per accertare la colpa grave di Anek e Visemar nel disastro marittimo del Norman Atlantic, annullando i massimali risarcitori per i passeggeri e le vittime imposti dalla Convenzione di Atene del 1974, e spingere questo processo verso il riconoscimento dei danni punitivi a carico delle due compagnie di navigazione.

Two years from the Norman Atlantic tragedy – Due anni dalla tragedia Norman Atlantic

norman-atlantic-in-fiammeExactly two years ago, on December the 28th 2014, the NORMAN ATLANTIC ferry, property of the Italian shipowner VISEMAR and rented by the Greek company ANEK LINES, departed from Greece and directed to Ancona, caught fire in the middle of the night off the Albanian coast, and in short time went drifting off the Adriatic sea, in a storm of six meters waves and force 8 wind, with almost 500 people on board and overrun with cars, trucks and Tir carrying goods from Greece to Italy, especially olive oil, which would then fuel the flames for days. The origins of the fire are still under investigation, via a procedure of recording evidence that, as required by the Public Prosecutor of Bari, will have to verify not only the evolution of the shipping incident, but also, and above all, the possible Crew responsibilities in emergency management on board, and the companies ones for malfunctions, as it seemed clear from the start, that the latter turned the fire – started from the deck 4 of the ship, in a real holocaust for dozens of people, 10 dead and over 19 missing, imprisoning the rest of the survivors on the top and outside deck of the ship, drifting inexorably and internally devoured by flames, and to be recovered only by helicopter and transferred one by one. A difficult rescue operation because of adverse weather and sea conditions, and that, despite having involved over 20 merchant and naval ships of different nationalities and several rescue helicopters, lasted for more than two days – an infinite time for those caught between the grip of toxic smokes, flames, incandescent floors and the icy cold of the water jets – sprayed continuously by emergency ships. The very few who managed to take their seats on lifeboats or reach the floating boat dropped overboard, lived an experience of terror and horror, even worse than those who remained trapped on the burning ferry.

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. Some bodies of drowned victims were found after days, torn apart by evident shark bites. Nearly twenty people are missing, but the count of those missing is certainly more serious, considering the presence on board of many illegal immigrants.

In the tragedy – however – there were also scenes of altruism and heroism, as in the case of the Orthodox priest who generously helped many shipwrecked persons to climb the dangerous rope ladder thrown by the rescue ship to the lifeboat on which they stood, leaving the way to all families before falling into the sea and get lost forever; or the greek doctor, who still works in Italy, which remained on board the ferry up until the end, providing his assistance to fellow sufferers, or like some truck drivers who, at great personal risk, managed to hook the towing tugs cable to the Norman Atlantic.

A horror lived in long and intense measure, in extreme psychophysical and weather conditions, which left indelible marks inside all people escaped from death, diagnosed in terms of “post-traumatic stress disorder“, studied for the first time in World War I and Vietnam veterans, and then ascertained as a psychological pathology, typical of disaster survivors, as in the case of the collapse of the twin towers.

After two years we are still waiting for the closing stage of the preliminary investigation by the magistracy and experts appointed by the Criminal Court of Bari. A report that will hopefully shed some light on the many shadows that since the beginning we have emphasized, with regard to ship-owners, the carrier, crew, those who certified the ship but also – and above all – in the maritime great transportation system, where the law of profit – too often – seems to prevail over the safety rules and accident prevention.

Avv. Massimiliano Gabrielli a bordo del norman atlanticOur 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. Since the early days we were involved because of our experience in maritime disasters such as the sinking of the “Concordia” and “Jolly Nero“, and directly in the forefront we have provided (in person) assistance for immediate needs and to return home several families, support in the investigations on the DNA for the possible identification of missing persons, aid for the recover of the vehicles following the withdrawal of the vessel seizure (a year and a half after the accident), and then starting – on one hand – filing about 50 complaints and an intense work of investigations in the criminal proceedings – through our consultants and accessing the ship, and – on the other side – opening the negotiations with Anek & Visemar lawyers, in order to achieve a fair and honorable compensation in favor of our clients. Continua a leggere