Italian PM Renzi outraged after asbestos conviction tossed out due to statute of limitations

Associated Press

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi has added his voice to a chorus of outrage after Italy's highest court threw out a conviction against a Swiss businessman for some 3,000 asbestos-related deaths blamed on contamination from a construction company.

The Court of Cassation ruled late Wednesday that the statute of limitations had run out in the environmental negligence case against Stephan Schmidheiny, a former executive and key shareholder in the Swiss construction firm Eternit.

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An appeals court in 2013 upheld the conviction and increased to 18 years from 16 the prison term issued by a lower court in 2012.

Renzi said Thursday the case showed how Italy's justice system must be reformed to speed up trials. He said: "It's not possible that for some cases the demand for justice runs out."