Jansen: ‘End statute of limitations for asbestos cases’

13 February 2012

Jansen: ‘End statute of limitations for asbestos cases’

SP Member of Parliament Paulus Jansen wants to see an end put to the statute of limitations when it comes to cases involving asbestos. His call comes in the wake of a verdict from the Italian courts which today condemned two former executives of Eternit, which produces the carcinogenic material asbestos, to prison terms of sixteen years. According to the judge, the two were responsible for the deaths of 3000 employees or family members of employees of Eternity factories in Italy.

Paulus Jansen“I find it unacceptable that asbestos bosses in the Netherlands are still walking around free,” says Jansen. “It’s high time that we got rid of any statute of limitations for asbestos cases.” In the Netherlands the limit for prosecution of asbestos cases stands at thirty years, which makes prosecution of those responsible as good as impossible, as asbestos-related diseases often do not become evident within that time. “In the Netherlands some people are inclined to write Italy off as a banana republic,” says Jansen. “But when it comes to asbestos law they are clearly far ahead of us.”

According to the lawyer for the Asbestos Victims’ Committee, Bob Ruers, who is also a Senator for the SP, the Italian verdict should have major consequences. “Eternit has the same know-how everywhere in the world and uses the same techniques in almost identical factories and is therefore in my eyes responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths,” says Ruers. “Countless people have had their lives destroyed, while all the time the company knew of the dangers. This judgment is a real breakthrough.”

During the trial Senator Ruers acted as advisor to the Italian victims’ lawyer. The book The tragedy of asbestos, which Ruers authored with the SP Research Bureau was consulted repeatedly during the trial.

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