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.read more (leggi il resto)