The first great criminal trial against the big masters of asbestos will be starting in 2008 in Turin, after years of preliminary investigations conducted by the “iron prosecutor attorney” Raffaele Guariniello. So far, suits brought throughout the world have been civil proceedings, which aimed at refunding the victims or bringing down the local executives of the companies. In Turin, for the first time, the major stockholders of Eternit -the European asbestos colossus- will appear in the dock.
The figures of the disaster are impressive: 100.000 people die around the world every year for diseases linked to asbestos. Mesothelioma, a cancer of the pleura caused exclusively by inhaling asbestos micro-fibres, can take up to 30 years to manifest, but once it does it is unmerciful
Even though asbestos has been banned from the European Union in 1999, with effect by 2005, as in many other countries -although the same cannot be said for the United States and Canada-, the number of people who have died will not cease in the next twenty years. The decontamination of things around us still containing asbestos in huge quantities -from tiles, to old trains, toasters, linoleum, iron boards or car brakes- will require some ten years, and will cost thousands of victims.
There is only one question left: did the top management of industrial giants, which for a century have divided up the market, know? And if they did, what did they do to protect both workers and consumers?
The great asbestos trial stages the first degree trial in Turin. The trial will have to decide if and to what measure the top management of asbestos companies are criminally responsible for the social consequences of the company activities in Casale Monferrato, both on their workers and the entire community.
Workers, employees and factory managers were not the only ones to have suffered the illness and died; the whole community surrounding these factories were involved: workers’ families who got in contact with their working clothes, bartenders who served coffee in bars nearby the factories, people who lived on the roads where trucks loaded with the raw material passed and even the truck drivers themselves… A gruesome unaware exposure with the first victims as plague-spreaders.
Together with the our female characters, many determined people will follow this epochal trial. Everyone of them is animated by a different outlook on the world: job safety and the dream of a clean world for the civil lawyers; the desire for justice and the need of recognition for the victims’ committee; international competition rules, employment and profit for the defence; a “power clash” at the highest level for the attorney general.
Will the “Davids” have the upper hand on the great enterprises’ “Goliaths”? Will it be a modern tale where the community will overcome at last, or will the power of the industrial giants prevail?
The project has been circulating at a number of international events and it has gained the interest of several TV producers from all around the world. This initial research work was supported and financed by the Media Development Fund and the Piemonte Doc Film Fund. The documentary is produced by Enrica Capra (Graffiti doc, Italy), in co-production with Iota Production (Belgium), RTBF (be), RTSI (s) and ARTE (fr/d).
We'll hope to meet all of you and to collaborate with you, we're open to any kind of suggestion and information about the asbestos issues during all this years and the next 2010.
See you in Torino,
niCcolò bruna e andrea prandstraller,