Italians are suing politicians for their alleged mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. As many as 500 families are all set to file civil lawsuits in the Lombardy province of Bergamo, saying political leadership failed to curb the impact of the deadly virus. Italy was one of the worst hit European countries in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bergamo was literally the worst affected region probably in the whole of the world. More than 3000 people died of the virus in the region alone. The NYT had reported that hospitals had become makeshift morgues and coffins were routinely paraded out of hospitals even as a failed system was overwhelmed by the pandemic.
The Guardian reported that the families of the dead will sue the prime minister, health minister and the president of the Lombardy region over their alleged criminal negligence in dealing with the pandemic.
There Was no National Pandemic Plan
According to the lawsuit, three leaders, Giuseppe Conte, Roberto Speranza and Attilio Fontana respectively, were responsible for as many as 70,000 Covid-19 deaths in Italy.
The citizens say that the government failed to immediately quarantine the town after the outbreak was reported in February. They also say the decision to reopen a hospital in Bergamo immediately after an outbreak happened was instrumental in worsening the pandemic.
The suit also says there was no national pandemic plan and that the regional authorities failed to implement a local plan to counter the spread of the virus. The lawsuit is seeking €259,000 in compensation for each of the 500 families filing the lawsuit.
"The government and region are responsible for violating rules and for dereliction of duties ... The law obliged Italy to have an adequate national plan and for the regional authority to implement an adequate regional plan," the petitioners say.
"They had no guidelines ... And even if [the old plan] was implemented it wouldn't have worked as it lacked a series of steps that should have been followed in order to have been prepared for this pandemic."
The death toll in Bergamo, a wealthy province of more than 1 million people, has reportedly been double the official figure.
Earlier, the NYT had reported that the World Health Organization's guidelines had also contributed to the worsening of the pandemic. "The WHO's guidance on testing engendered a misplaced sense of security and helped blind doctors to the spread of the virus. But missteps and inaction after Covid-19 exploded into view aggravated the situation and cost Bergamo — and Italy — precious time when minutes mattered most," the report said.
The residents say the legal move is not so much about compensation as making a political point. "This legal action is our Christmas present to those who should have done [what they were supposed to do], but didn't, while in Italy, on Christmas Day, there will be 70,000 empty chairs. With adequate planning, as requested over and over again by the EU and the WHO, we are certain there would have been far fewer."