Archivi tag: norman atlantic fire

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

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.

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

Pre-Trial probative hearing for #NormanAtlantic

IMG_7327After a long wait, the Public Prosecutors of Bari have finally filed the request for the probative hearing, in order to proceed through the Judge experts, to access the ship and examine, jointly with the other parties, to all the data equipment, and investigation results, carried out so far. The experts will be ask to ensure the nature of the malfunction of the fire alarm system, and all supply systems of the motorship Norman Atlantic, the observance of the regulations on ship safety, loading and securing of vehicles, the effective closing of the garage, identification of the causes of the fire, and its propagation, the correctness of the emergency procedures, evacuation and timing of the alarms, in addition to the reliefs of all technical data, in function to the next processual phase of the case .

The GIP (investigating Judge) of Bari, Dr. Alessandra Piliego, has stated the first pre-trial hearing to May 22- 2015, in order to formulate the investigation requests and to formally give the assignment to a college of experts already appointed. We already know the names of some of this experts, or auxiliaries, for being consultants or experts in the Concordia case.

The long list of injured parties in the hearing decree document, is only partial because it is not updated with all further complaints for several other passengers, only recently filed – in many parties of Italy – close to the expiry period of three months after the fact, and apparently not yet formally dispatched to the attention of Bari court offices. This will not be a difficulty as, out of the fact that only some of the passengers apparently proposed a complaint, the GIP ordered the notification of the decree about the probative hearing with public announce, disposing the publication of the document on institutional sites and its transmission to news agency.

norman-atlantic-sportellone[1]We looked forward to start the judicial proceeding operations, that incredibly seemed destined to remain suspended for a long time more. The situation, we must critically comment, seems to have been resolved only with the media pressure most recently placed by the cruise companies Costa Crociere and MSC, complaining about the occupation of the cruise dock in the port of Bari by the wreck Norman Atlantic, from the gruesome and not very reassuring appearance, containing a lot of heavy trucks still loaded of food in an advanced state of decomposition: so, for them, the Norman Atlantic is an inconvenient and stinks wreck.

They seem to forget, however, that this wreck still holds, allegedly, other passenger’s corpse who have not been found or that were not even recorded in boarding list, and that for more than 120 days, many missing’s relatives are anxious to recover and bring home the bodies of their family members, or at least to know if one of the corpses already found on board or at sea in recent months belongs to their relative.

On Monday we will present a formal request to the Prosecutor of Bari in order to proceed, without further delay, to the sample collection for recognition of DNA on family members of some of the missing, and that firstly ask, indeed legitimately require, to know.

After the expert’s operations will also be possible to proceed to a possible restitution, in favor of claimants, of the recoverable vehicles and personal property, if not destroyed in the fire of 28/12/2014.

Our lawyers Massimiliano Gabrielli, Cesare Bulgheroni and Alessandra Guarini will take part at the hearing on May 22, primarily to monitor and protect the interests of the injured parties, but also to assert immediately passenger’s rights, which are still waiting a real offer from the companies.

As for today, Anek Lines and Visemar have not made any kind of concrete offer, avoiding a diligent behavior but mostly, providing an initial and adequate sum for compensation, due, in relation to the victims’ families, some of which, as in the case of truck drivers, have left wives and children without any form of maintenance .

WE ENCLOSE THE FULL DECREE ORDER THAT STATE THE PROBATIVE HEARING