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Hundreds pack Italian court for asbestos hearing

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Hundreds pack Italian court for asbestos hearing

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Hundreds of people packed a courthouse in Turin on Monday to hear whether a Swiss billionaire and a Belgian Baron will face trial over alleged safety failings at their four Italian cement factories.

Prosecutors have brought the action on behalf of more than 2,600 former employees of the Swiss company Eternit as well as 300 local residents alleged to have been effected by asbestos. The workers and their families have long claimed Eternit was aware of the dangers of the toxic substance but did little or nothing to warn and protect people. Several groups, including the Italian region of Piedmont, are claiming damages. Eternit’s Swiss owner Stephen Schmidheiny and Belgian former managing director Baron Louis de Cartier are accused of safety failings at four plants in Italy. Neither man was in court for the hearing. A judge must now decide if the proceedings will go to a full trial. A decision is expected at the end of the month.