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Autostrade executives guilty of manslaughter in 2013 motorway accident, CEO acquitted

Reuters  |  MILAN/ROME 

By Francesca and Stefano Bernabei

MILAN/ROME (Reuters) - Three managers at per l'Italia, and three former managers, were found guilty of manslaughter on Friday over the deaths of 40 people in a 2013 accident on one of the company's motorways, while was acquitted.

The guilty verdicts by an Italian could open the door to potential damages suits against Autostrade, which is also under investigation after a bridge it operated collapsed in the Italian city of last August, killing 43 people.

The acquittal of Castellucci rekindled criticism against Autostrade, the motorways arm of Benetton-controlled group Atlantia, from the Luigi Di Maio, in a post on his page, called the verdict on Castellucci, who is also of Atlantia, "incomprehensible" and reiterated that the government wants to withdraw Autostrade's motorway concessions in

The verdicts on Friday related to a case brought by state prosecutors after a travelling on a motorway linking to Bari in in July 2013 fell off a viaduct near the town of

Autostrade, and the managers involved, were accused of poor maintenance of motorway barriers.

Autostrade's lawyer, Giorgio Perrone, said the company would appeal against the conviction of the six managers, who were given jail sentences of between five and six years.

The also sentenced the owner of the to 12 years in jail after investigators found the vehicle to be in poor condition.

Prosecutors had sought 10-year jail sentences for Castellucci and 11 other current and former managers at the company.

All 12 pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Five were acquitted along with Castellucci. Three of those found guilty no longer work for

In a statement, said it felt for the victims' relatives, adding it regretted the sentences handed out by the court to some of its managers.

"We are confident we can overturn the verdict for these six people who - in my opinion - were unfairly condemned," the company's Perrone told journalists attending the hearing.

Castellucci has already said he will step down as of Autostrade after a 13-year tenure.

The 59-year old is also under investigation - together with other company executives, Autostrade and officials at Italy's transport ministry - for multiple manslaughter after the bridge collapse.

Autostrade has denied any wrongdoing in the disaster.

After the bridge collapse, the blamed Autostrade for poor maintenance of the viaduct and threatened to revoke the group's concessions.

The company, which runs 3,000 km of toll roads across Italy, generates more than 60 percent of Atlantia's core earnings.

(Additional reporting by in Avellino; Editing by Susan Fenton)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, January 11 2019. 23:07 IST