Family members of coronavirus victims in Italy are taking legal action against the prime minister, health minister, and president of the Lombardy region for alleged criminal negligence in handling the pandemic.
The group of 500 families will file their civil suit on Wednesday with prosecutors in the Lombard province of Bergamo, which was severely affected during the first wave of the pandemic. They claim that the three leaders, Giuseppe Conte, Roberto Speranza and Attilio Fontana respectively, have contributed to the nearly 70,000 deaths from Covid-19 in Italy.
The lawsuit centers on the authorities’ move to reopen a hospital in the Bergamo town of Alzano Lombardo, hours after an outbreak occurred there on February 23, and the subsequent lack of immediate quarantine of the town and nearby town. of Nembro, despite the advice of scientists. early March.
A crucial element of the legal action will be the alleged absence of an updated national pandemic plan and the failure of regional authorities to implement a local plan that was supposed to have been developed from the national one.
Consuelo Locati, the lawyer leading the case, is seeking € 259,000 (£ 235,000) in compensation for each of the 500 families who sued.
The legal movement is being driven by members of We will denounce (We Will Report), a group of grieving family members that met in April.
The Noi Denunceremo committee has so far submitted 300 legal complaints, detailing how some of the victims died, to Bergamo prosecutors, who launched an investigation into the authorities’ alleged negligence in June.
Locati said that the judicial complaints did not identify crimes or culprits but that the investigation carried out in recent months “has allowed us to identify clear responsibilities,” triggering civil action.
“The government and the region are responsible for violating the rules and for breaching duties,” added Locati. “The law required Italy to have an adequate national plan and for the regional authority to implement an adequate regional plan.”
Locati claims that not only was Italy’s pandemic plan very outdated, it had never been tested to establish whether it worked.
“They had no guidelines,” he said. “And even if [the old plan] was implemented would not have worked since it lacked a series of steps that should have been followed to be prepared for this pandemic “.
Italy was the first European country affected by the pandemic. That its pandemic plan dates back to 2006 was revealed in a report led by World Health Organization (WHO) scientist Francesco Zambon on the country’s initial response to the coronavirus outbreak. The aim of the report was to provide information to countries that had not yet been affected.
The report was posted on the WHO website on May 13, but was removed the next day and all references were removed, The Guardian reported in August. The report’s removal allegedly came at the request of Ranieri Guerra, WHO’s deputy director-general for strategic initiatives.