1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Workplace deaths

April 16, 2011

An Italian court has convicted the head of ThyssenKrupp's Italian steel unit, along with other managers, over the deaths of seven workers in a fire at its Turin plant. The German company also received a hefty fine.

A steelworker at ThyssenKrupp
Steelmaker ThyssenKrupp was also fined over the fireImage: AP

The chief executive of German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp's Italian unit was sentenced to 16.5 years in jail on Friday over charges related to a factory fire that killed seven employees in December 2007.

Harald Espenhahn was convicted by a court in the northern city of Turin of "voluntary homicide," a first in Italy for a workplace accident.

Seven workers died after suffering severe burns when a fire broke out at the steel plant's thermal treatment department. The fire was one of the worst in Italy and sparked a public debate over health and safety regulations.

Company penalty

ThyssenKrupp headquarters
ThyssenKrupp called the verdict 'inexplicable'Image: AP

The Italian court also handed out lengthy jail terms to five other managers and fined the company 1 million euros ($1.45 million). In addition, the steel company will not be allowed to benefit from Italian state subsidies for six months. During the same period, ThyssenKrupp will also be banned from advertising its products in Italy.

The steelmaker called the verdict against Espenhahn "incomprehensible and inexplicable," adding that its attorneys would look into what can be done about it.

"We are totally unsatisfied and we will appeal," defense lawyer Cesare Zaccone said after the verdict. "But I don't believe we will obtain a lot more."

The verdict was welcomed by prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello who said it would "mean a lot for health and safety at the workplace."

Author: Joanna Impey (AP, AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Sarah Ashton-Cirillo pictured during an interview with DW
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage