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NORMAN ATLANTIC’s PRELIMINARY HEARING: all the suspects have been indicted, the trial begins in February

PRELIMINARY HEARING SET TO TRIAL ALL THE INDICTED – NEXT HEARINGs FROM FEBRUARY 26th

Dear Clients, after a long and very intense session of hearings starting from last Monday, we obtained yesterday a first but fundamental progress in the criminal procedure towards the trial stage, as a result of the preliminary hearing, with the indictment of everyone, without any exception, of the 20 suspects and 2 companies.

A very important first certification on the seriousness of the criminal conducts not only from a considerable part of the crew which, having not only a moral but also a legal obligation, has abandoned the ship and the passengers to their fate, but also and above all on the shipping companies that have knowingly accepted a risk by allowing the continuous loading of refrigerated trucks to a greater extent than the capacity of the ship. For this reason, the aggravating circumstance of gross negligens / conscious guilt was criticized but confirmed for all the indicted, and our request for punitive damages and a multimillionnaire compensation will serve to rebalance the system, among those who, for years, have earned by accepting the risk of an accident just to continue to run the ship and the cash register, and those who paid a ticket and found themselves in a hell of a fire on a ship in flames adrift in the stormy sea.

For the defendants and the vast group of lawyers who did not want us in the courtroom among the trial parties, we are very sorry, but the judge rejected all the formal and substantial exceptions raised against our request for the establishment of a civil party; they will find us again, ready to battle, in the courtroom at the criminal trial, starting on February 26th 2020.

A particularly important activity for our team, was completed at this stage in the time elapsed since last May’s hearing to this last session, namely the call of the companies as a civil liability for the payment of damages, and, as you know, in the past months we have carried out the notifications of all the documents in Italy and in Greece, with great expenditure of effort and energy for the necessary accuracy of the formalities, which have passed positively the analysis of the judge and exceeded all the exceptions of the defendants. We have now 3 companies in the Visemar Group and Anek Ae (and P&I is monitoring the trial with his lawyers as insurer) as subjects called to cover for our damages requests.

Furthermore we have formally transferred the compensation action from the civil trial to the criminal one, making the civil procedure declared to be extinguished, started, as you know, to avoid the possible disqualifications and 2 years prescriptions terms provided for by the reg. Ce 392. We are definitively the leading group among the civil parties, representing and determining practically all the main procedural choices on behalf of the passengers, as in the case of the call of the civil managers performed personally and only by our team, and merely accepted by all the other civil parties.

The next phase of the trial will begin on 26 February 2020, and many other intense commitments await us before that date, in order to indicate the witnesses and the consulants requests in favor of our clients, but the prospects are definitely positive in our favor, as all the accusations have already been preliminarily confirmed, and the court of Bari has again dedicated to our trial the Bitonto bunker courtroom, in order to allow a tight schedule and therefore times predictably acceptable for the hearings and the first degree sentence.

We can certainly say that we finally reached a turning point in the criminal trial and that our requests for punitive damages are received by the media and by jurisprudence with great and growing interest, which increases the concern of shipowners and insurers, also in consideration of the non-application of the Reg. Ce 392/2009 maximum compensation limits in maritime accidents, in case of verification of the criminal responsabilities and liability of the shipowners themselves and our multimillionaire request for compensation.

We are very satisfied with the results and the prospects, asking you once again to stand firm in the trust in our team’s work and the claims for judicial compensation, considering the importance of our role as civil parties on ascertaining the truth and the very serious criminal responsibilities in the disaster also for the shipping companies and owners.

The insurers’ proposals so far negotiated to close positions with a transaction, have been almost offensive in their limited dimension, strong from a dominant position, having on their side the uncertainty over the indictments and the timing of the trial in the race towards the prescription of crimes ; this deadlock in the criminal trial is finally over with the closing of the preliminary hearing and indictment of all the suspects, and therefore now that we proceed quickly to the trial phase, the prospects for a full assessment of the very serious faults of the defendants, and a fair and exemplary compensation for damage in favor of all passengers and victims, is very predictable and yet achievable with the first degree sentence.

It is important to say that the February 26 hearing will be the last chance for those on board the Atlantic norman to act as a civil party in the criminal trial, and this choice firmly supported by our legal team from the beginning, and now suggested by more greek law firms and even the Greek Pubblic prosecutor’s office, is rewarding our clients that has always firmly believed that the criminal trial is the natural set for your rights and the best way to get a fair compensation that is not only related to the damage proof, which in the case of post-traumatic stress and psychological harm without physical injury is very difficult for the victims, but also and above all appropriate to the seriousness of the criminal faults of the defendants: the greater the serious guilt and the higher the compensation must be! for this reason we requested in the criminal trial a sum of about one million euros per passenger for biological and existential damage, patrimonial damage and punitive damages.

Before next February, therefore, it will be our duty and pleasure to update you through a newsletter addressed to each customer on what are the necessary information to be acquired, willingness to be indicated as witnesses to be heard in the process and to collect the documents to be acquired among the trial papers

 The “Giustizia per Norman Atlantic” legal team


UDIENZA PRELIMINARE NORMAN ATLANTIC: tutti gli indagati sono stati rinviati a giudizio, si inizia a febbraio con la fase dibattimentale

Cari clienti, dopo una lunga e intensa sessione di udienze a partire da lunedì scorso, abbiamo ottenuto ieri un primo ma fondamentale successo nella procedura penale verso la fase bibattimentale del processo, a seguito dell a chiusura dell’udienza preliminare, con il rinvio a giudizio di tutti, senza alcun eccezione, i 20 indagati e 2 società.

Una prima fondamentale certificazione sulla gravità delle condotte criminali posta in essere non solo da una parte considerevole dell’equipaggio che, avendo non solo un obbligo morale ma anche legale di assistenza, ha abbandonato la nave e i passeggeri al loro destino, ma anche e soprattutto sulle compagnie di navigazione che hanno consapevolmente accettato un rischio consentendo il carico continuo di camion Frigoriferi in misura maggiore della capacità della nave. Per questo motivo, la circostanza aggravante di colpa cosciente è stata criticata ma confermata per tutti gli incriminati, e la nostra richiesta di danni punitivi e un risarcimento multimilionario serviranno a riequilibrare il sistema, tra coloro che, per anni, hanno guadagnato accettando il rischio di un incidente solo per continuare a far girare senza sosta la nave e il registratore di cassa, e quelli che hanno pagato un biglietto e si sono trovati in un inferno di fuoco, su una nave in fiamme alla deriva nel mare in tempesta.

Siamo molto dispiaciuti per gli imputati e il vasto gruppo di avvocati che non ci volevano nell’aula di tribunale tra le parti processuali, ma il giudice ha respinto tutte le eccezioni formali e sostanziali sollevate contro la nostra richiesta di istituzione di coastituzione come parti civili; ci troveranno di nuovo, pronti a combattere, nell’aula del processo penale, a partire dal 26 febbraio 2020.

Un’attività particolarmente importante per il nostro team, è stata completata in questa fase nel tempo trascorso dall’udienza dello scorso maggio a quest’ultima sessione, vale a dire la chiamata delle società come responsabilità civile per il risarcimento dei danni e, come sapete, nel nei mesi scorsi abbiamo effettuato le notifiche di tutti i documenti in Italia e in Grecia, con grande dispendio di impegno e mezzi per la necessaria accuratezza delle formalità, che hanno superato positivamente l’analisi del giudice e superato tutte le eccezioni dei difensori degli imputati. Abbiamo ora 3 società nel gruppo Visemar e Anek Ae (con P&I che sta monitorando il processo con i suoi avvocati come assicuratore) come soggetti chiamati a coprire le richieste di risarcimento danni.

Inoltre, abbiamo formalmente trasferito l’azione di risarcimento dal processo civile a quello penale, chiudendo la procedura civile che è stata dichiarata estinta,  e che avevamo avviata, come sapete, per evitare ogni possibile pregiudizio e i termini di prescrizione di 2 anni previsti dal reg. Ce 392. Siamo senza dubbio il gruppo leader tra i difensori delle parti civili, rappresentando e determinando le principali scelte procedurali per conto dei passeggeri, come nel caso della chiamata dei responsabili civili eseguita personalmente solo dal nostro team e semplicemente accettato da tutte le altre parti civili che ne hanno chiesto l’estensione a loro favore.

La prossima fase del processo inizierà il 26 febbraio 2020 e molti altri intensi impegni ci attendono prima di tale data, al fine di indicare le richieste dei testimoni e dei consulenti a favore dei nostri clienti, ma le prospettive sono decisamente positive a nostro favore, poiché tutte le accuse sono già state preliminarmente confermate, e il tribunale di Bari ha nuovamente dedicato al nostro processo l’aula del bunker di Bitonto, al fine di consentire un calendario serrato e quindi tempi prevedibilmente accettabili per le udienze e la sentenza di primo grado.

Possiamo certamente affermare che abbiamo finalmente raggiunto un punto di svolta nel processo penale e che le nostre richieste di risarcimento danni punitivi sono ricevute dai media e dalla giurisprudenza con grande e crescente interesse, il che aumenta la preoccupazione degli armatori e degli assicuratori, anche in considerazione della disapplicazione dei limiti massimi di risarcimento in caso di incidenti marittimi prevista del Reg. Ce 392/2009, in caso di accertamento di responsabilità penali in capo agli armatori stessi, e della nostra richiesta multimilionaria di risarcimento.

Siamo molto soddisfatti del risultato e delle prospettive, chiedendoVi ancora una volta di mantenere ferme la fiducia e le richieste di risarcimento, confidando nell’importanza del nostro ruolo di parti civili nell’accertare la verità e le gravissime responsabilità criminali nel disastro anche per il ruolo delle compagnie di navigazione e armatori.

Le proposte degli assicuratori finora negoziate per chiudere posizioni con una transazione, sono state quasi offensive nella loro limitata dimensione, forti da una posizione dominante avendo dalla loro parte l’incertezza sulle accuse e sui tempi del processo nella corsa verso la prescrizione dei crimini; questa situazione di stallo nel processo penale è finalmente terminata con la chiusura dell’udienza preliminare e il rinvio a giudizio di tutti gli indagati e quindi, ora che procediamo rapidamente alla fase del processo, le prospettive per una valutazione completa delle gravi colpe degli imputati, ed un risarcimento equo ed esemplare per i danni a favore di tutti i passeggeri e le vittime, è definitivamente prevedibile e già raggiungibile con la frase di primo grado.

È importante dire che l’udienza del 26 febbraio sarà l’ultima possibilità per coloro che sono a bordo del Norman Atlantic di agire come parte civile nel processo penale, e questa scelta che è stata fermamente supportata dal nostro team legale fin dall’inizio, e ora suggerita da più studi legali greci e persino dalla procura della Repubblica Greca, sta senza dubbio premiando i nostri clienti che hanno sempre fermamente creduto che il processo penale fosse il set naturale per far valere i vostri diritti e il percorso legale migliore per ottenere un giusto risarcimento non solo legato alla prova del danno, che nel caso di stress post-traumatico e danno psicologico senza lesioni fisiche è molto difficoltoso per le vittime, ma anche e soprattutto commisurato alla gravità delle colpe degli imputati: maggiore è la colpa grave e maggiore è il risarcimento deve essere! per questo motivo abbiamo richiesto nel processo penale una somma di circa un milione di euro per passeggero per danni biologici ed esistenziali, danni patrimoniali e danni punitivi.

Prima del prossimo febbraio, pertanto, sarà nostro dovere e piacere aggiornarvi attraverso una newsletter indirizzata a ciascun cliente su quali vi comunicheremo le informazioni necessarie da acquisire, la vs volontà di essere indicati come testimoni da ascoltare nel processo e di raccogliere i documenti da acquisire tra i documenti di prova

Il team legale “Giustizia per Norman Atlantic”

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

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

Mr. Metaxopoulos to Eleftheros Typos: “It is better for the Greek victims to address Italian Lawyers with their case”.

Interview given by our partner in Athens Mr. Metaxopoulos to a major, widely distributed Greek newspaper (Eleftheros Typos).

“It is better for the Greek victims to address Italian Lawyers / to approach Italian Lawyers with their case”.

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