Italian court to hear 2006 ferry tragedy lawsuits

Although four years have elapsed since the sinking of the Al-Salam 98 ferry in the Red Sea, the story has not ended yet, with an Italian court preparing to examine lawsuits filed against the company that had vouched for the ferry’s safety.

The court is expected to demand millions of dollars in compensation to be paid out to the families of the 1034 people who perished in the 2006 tragedy, along with survivors.

Egyptian courts had earlier ruled to compensate only victims’ immediate next of kin with LE300,000 each, while the Italian court has decided to include third-degree relatives as well.

Lawyers for the victims’ families considered the Egyptian compensation payouts inadequate, and therefore commissioned Italian lawyer Camillo Scampia to file a lawsuit with the Turin Court against Rina, the Italian certification company that had been responsible for the ferry’s safety.

Rina had initially endorsed the ferry’s seaworthiness, although subsequent investigations found that the vessel had not been safe to sail.

Rina had also vouched for the seaworthiness of three other ferries belonging to Al-Salam company, in 1990, 1994 and 1998. All three of these vessels eventually sank.

According to international insurance policies, compensation in such cases should amount to US$300,000–more than five times the amount paid out to victims so far.

The court will also investigate whether Al-Salam company cashed the insurance in US dollars before paying victims' families in Egyptian pounds, thus pocketing the difference.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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