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Italian court drops COVID case against Lombardy president and others

An Italian court on Monday (24 July) dropped a case against the president of the northern region of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, and 11 other people over their initial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, a court document showed.

On 7 June, another court dropped the same case against former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and former Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

Prosecutors in the northern city of Bergamo, the epicentre of the 2020 outbreak of COVID in Italy, had placed Conte, Speranza and 17 others under investigation for manslaughter and mishandling the epidemic.

On Monday, the three judges of the court in the city of Brescia also referred the case back to the public prosecutor’s office for the remaining five persons charged with refusing to carry out official acts.

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The court wrote in its ruling that the accusations brought against Fontana and the others were “unfounded” because governments all over the world, including in Lombardy, were dealing with a new and exceptional epidemiological situation.

Fontana’s lawyers, Jacopo Pensa and Federico Papa, welcomed the ruling. “He has always acted according to law and to conscience, he did not facilitate the pandemic and did not cause the deaths attributed to him”, they said in a statement.

The association of COVID victims’ relatives said they were baffled. “No one will have to answer to the families of the victims … why all the preventive measures required by Italian and European laws were not taken”, they said in an emailed statement.

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