Former Eternit CEO of Asbestos Factory Receives 12-Year Prison Sentence

Stephan Schmidheiny, a Swiss billionaire and former main shareholder in the cement production company Eternit Italia, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison by an Italian court in the city of Novara on June 7. He was found guilty of causing the death of 392 people in Casale Monferrato, the Piedmont town that until 1986 was home to the largest of Eternit Italia’s six factories. Of the victims, 60 were factory workers while the rest were living in the town or surrounding area.

Eternit’s factories had used asbestos, which was once considered the miracle mineral because of its durability and resistance to flames, to strengthen cement during the 1970s and 1980s. Schmidheiny, 73, had managed the plant in Casale Monferrato from 1976 until its closure. In addition to the prison sentence, judges ordered him to pay compensation to the victims’ families. In February, Schmidheiny had already received a prison sentence of one year and eight months in another appeal case for the death of a worker at one of his factories.

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