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Italian businessman De Benedetti acquitted in asbestos deaths case

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ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s highest appeals court has acquitted one of the country’s best-known businessmen, Carlo De Benedetti, of charges in a long-running case over the asbestos-related deaths of former workers of electronics group Olivetti.

De Benedetti, who served as chief executive and chairman of Olivetti for almost 20 years from the late 1970s, had been given a jail sentence in the case by a lower court in 2016.

“We are all very happy because it’s been a long and difficult case… it has turned (De Benedetti’s) life upside down (because) he wasn’t expecting it,” said De Benedetti’s lawyer Tomaso Pisapia.

The case related to the illness and death of 14 workers at the Olivetti plant in the northern Italian town of Ivrea, close to Turin, who had worked in areas allegedly contaminated by asbestos fibres.

A legal source confirmed the sentence, adding Carlo’s brother Franco and former industry minister Corrado Passera, CEO of Olivetti between September 1992 and July 1996, had also been acquitted in the case.

(Reporting by Domenico Lusi, writing by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Francesca Landini)

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