Judge Rules ThyssenKrupp Bosses will Stand Trial over Fire Deaths

Six managers are accused of being responsible for the deaths of seven workers.

An Italian judge ruled on Nov. 17 that managers at Turin's ThyssenKrupp steelworks will stand trial on charges of manslaughter and gross negligence, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Six managers of the German steelmaker are accused of being responsible for the deaths of seven workers who suffered severe burns when a fire broke out at the plant's thermal treatment department in early December last year.

The fire was one of the worst in recent years in Italy and sparked a public debate over health and safety regulations as most of the workers died of their injuries over the following days and weeks.

The company's General Director Harald Espenhahn, will stand trial for "voluntary homicide." The decision sets a precedent in Italy as it is the first time that workplace deaths have brought such a charge, accoding to ANSA.

The accident cast the spotlight on the high number of workplace-related deaths in Italy. Figures are declining however, with 1,302 deaths in 2006 compared to 1,400 in 2002.

The ThyssenKrupp trial will begin on January 15.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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