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A pair of executives who operated manufacturing plants in Italy will each serve 16 years in prison for failing to protect workers and nearby residents from asbestos exposure.
Jean-Louise de Cartier of Belgium and Stephan Schmidheiny of Switzerland were convicted Monday by a three-judge panel in Turin, Italy. Prosecutors say that the two shareholders of the Swiss firm Eternit are responsible for more than 2,000 asbestos-related deaths in northern Italy.
The verdict is hailed as a watershed moment for those working to ban asbestos around the world. Just minutes after the verdict, Linda Reinstein, the founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, spread the news on her blog.
“It is not just a landmark case for the workers, or the people of Italy, but rather represents an opportunity to redefine justice around the world,” Reinstein wrote.