Italian cable car crash suspects freed
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Three men who were arrested for the Italian cable car crash that killed 14 people were released from prison overnight after a judge found a “complete lack of evidence” against two of them, have officials said Sunday.
Services director Gabriele Tadini has been placed under house arrest, while technical director Enrico Perocchio and the head of the cable car operating company, Luigi Nerini, have been released.
All three remain under investigation for the tragedy.
In Italy, judges must approve the continued detention of suspects and generally order pre-trial detention only in special circumstances, for example when the accused is at risk of absconding.
The three men were arrested on Wednesday after Tadini admitted to investigators he disabled an emergency braking system that could have prevented the crash.
He said he did it because the system was malfunctioning and interrupted service several times, and insisted he act in agreement with the other two suspects.
But the judge Donatella Banci Bonamici found a “total lack of evidence against Nerini and Perocchio”, according to a decision quoted Sunday by the newspaper Corriere della Sera.
According to the judge, Tadini tried to shift some of the blame to his two superiors after acting “with total disregard for human life, with bewildering recklessness.”
Prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said she would “carefully assess” the judge’s decision, noting that it could be appealed, and said it would not derail the investigations.
“The suspects remain the same, our work continues,” she told reporters.
The cable car crashed near the top of Mottarone Mountain on May 24, after its traction cable snapped and the car flew backwards, dislodging a second support cable.
If the emergency brake had operated, the car would have remained hooked to the support cable. Investigators are still trying to determine why the first cable broke.
– ‘Significant improvement’ –
The accident left a five-year-old boy from an Israeli family who lived in Italy as the only survivor. He lost his parents, his younger brother and his great-grandparents.
After the crash, the boy, named Eitan, was airlifted to a hospital in Turin, northwest Italy, where he was intubated and sedated and treated for multiple injuries.
He regained consciousness on Thursday, and the hospital said on Sunday that his condition was “improving considerably”, reporting that he had resumed eating “soft and light foods”.
“For the moment, the child remains in intensive care as a precaution,” with the help of his aunt and grandmother, the hospital added.
Another five-year-old boy died with his parents. The other victims were a woman who was celebrating her 40th birthday with her husband and two couples in their twenties.
The Mottarone mountain served by the cable car is a popular tourist spot, as it offers panoramic views of Lake Maggiore and the more distant Alps.
On the cable car website, it is still presented as “one of the most beautiful natural balconies in Italy”.
The northwestern region of Piedmont, where the accident occurred, declared Sunday a day of mourning and urged its residents to observe a minute of silence at noon (10:00 GMT).
© 2021 AFP