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April 21, 2011

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Six managers jailed over Italian steel-plant fire

The chief executive of German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp’s Italian operation has been sentenced to 16 and a half years in prison after a court in Turin convicted him of murder charges relating to a fire that killed seven workers in 2007.

Harald Espenhahn was sentenced on 15 April, along with four other managers, who received prison terms of 13 and a half years, and a fifth, who was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months, for their role in the incident, according to the Financial Times.

The prosecution argued that the Turin plant’s managers had deliberately sacrificed security for cost-savings ahead of its planned closure with knowledge that such action could lead to an accident.

ThyssenKrupp, which was fined €9.26m ($13.5m), has also been banned from advertising in Italy for several months and barred from receiving state subsidies for six months. In an earlier settlement, the firm agreed to pay the victims’ families €12.69m ($18.5m).

In a statement, the company said: “An accident of this nature must never be repeated.” The statement expressed sympathy for the victims’ families, but added: “Dr. Espenhahn’s conviction of ‘second-degree murder’ is incomprehensible for ThyssenKrupp”.

The company has said it will appeal.

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