The owner of the Italian cable car company whose employees botched repairs and caused the death of 14 people has vowed to ‘pray at the victims’ graves’ following his release from custody.
Luigi Nerini, who was released over the weekend after a judge found a ‘total lack of evidence’ against him and technical director Enrico Perocchio, said he will have a ‘private visit’ to the graves, if the families of the victims allow him.
He added ‘we need total respect for the pain’ as he remains under investigation for suspected involuntary manslaughter and negligence over the tragedy alongside service manager Gabriele Tadini who was put under house arrest on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Eitan, the five-year-old boy who was the sole survivor of the crash, has started to eat solid food again as he remains in hospital.
The boy’s parents, younger brother and great-grandparents all died in the tragedy which took place on May 23 in Piedmont. Eitan still does not know about their deaths.
Luigi Nerini (left) who has been released from custody along with manager Enrico Perocchio (right) said the first thing he will do is ‘pray at the grave of the victims’
The coffin with the body of Serena Cosentino arrives in the church of Gesu Buon Pastore in Costenza, southern Italy
Eitan (pictufed, bottom), the five-year-old who was the sole survivor of the crash which killed 14 people including his parents, brother and great-grandparents, has started to eat as he remains in hospital after he was placed in a coma
Investigators inspect the site where the cable car fell to the ground before rolling into a tree last week
The hospital said ‘his condition is significantly improving’ after he suffered head injuries and a broken leg, and for the first time he ‘began to eat soft and light food’.
His aunt Aya and his grandmother who travelled from Israel to sit at his bedside remain with him in hospital.
When he awoke, Eitan asked his aunt, ‘what are we doing here’ and asked where his mother and father were.
Three men were held over the crash on Wednesday after service manager Tadini admitted to investigators he had deactivated an emergency brake system that could have prevented the incident.
He said he did it because the system was malfunctioning and had halted service several times, and insisted that he acted in agreement with the two other suspects.
But Nerini and Perocchio have been released from custody because, in Italy, judges must approve continued detention of suspects and usually order pre-trial detention only under special circumstances, for example when the accused is a flight risk.
Three men were detained on Wednesday after Tadini (pictured) admitted to investigators that he had deactivated an emergency brake system that could have prevented the crash
Pictured: The prison where the three men were being held in Verbania, Italy
Judge Donatella Banci Bonamici found a ‘total lack of evidence against Nerini and Perocchio’, according to a ruling quoted by the Corriere della Sera newspaper on Sunday.
According to the judge, Tadini tried to shift some of the blame on his two superiors after acting ‘with total disregard for human life, with bewildering carelessness’.
Tadini’s lawyer Marcello Perillo said his client ‘will have to face consequences’ for his admission, adding that the extent to which the other two men had indeed being informed of his actions was yet to be established.
‘There is no proof at present they were also responsible. They are people who should have known, but it’s not clear if they did,’ Perillo said.
Perocchio has claimed he had no idea that the brakes had been blocked. ‘I’ve got 21 years of experience with lifts that use cables, I know that’s something you don’t ever, ever do,’ Perocchio said, according to La Repubblica.
Local media reported that none of the men were ruled to be a flight risk and there was no risk of evidence being tampered with.
The cable car crashed near the top of the Mottarone mountain on May 24, after its pull cable snapped and the car flew backwards, dislodging itself from a second, supporting cable
Graphic shows the cable car’s route after the cable snapped as the car neared the station at the top of the mountain
Engineers ‘tampered with’ the braking system (circled) on the Italian cable car as part of a botched fix in order to avoid delays, prosecutors have said
Prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said she would ‘carefully assess’ the judge’s ruling, noting that it could be appealed, and said it would not derail investigations.
‘The suspects remain the same, our work goes on,’ she told reporters.
The cable car crashed near the top of the Mottarone mountain on May 24, after its pull cable snapped and the car flew backwards, dislodging itself from a second, supporting cable.
Had the emergency brake worked, the car would have remained hanging on the supporting cable. Investigators are still trying to ascertain why the first cable broke.
The accident left a five-year-old boy from an Israeli family who lived in Italy as the only survivor. He lost his parents, younger brother and great-grandparents. Pictured: Eitan Biran (in striped shirt) was the sole survivor of the crash. He is pictured here with his father Amit, mother Tal and brother Tom, who were killed
Alessandro Merlo and Silvia Malnati, 29 and 27, died in the tragedy. Friends said the couple had been engaged for 10 years and were planning to marry
Angelo Vito Gasparro, 45, wife Roberta Pistolato (together left and right), died when the cable car plunged 65ft during a trip to the mountains to celebrate Roberta’s 40th birthday
Vittorio Zorloni and Elisabetta Persanini (together left, and Vittorio pictured right) were also killed in the accident, along with their five-year-old son Mattia. The couple were engaged and due to be married next month, Italian media reported
Among the dead were Eitan’s family – parents Tal, 26, and Amit, 30, brother Tom, 2, and great-grandparents Itshak and Barbara Cohen, 82 and 70 – Alessandro Merlo, 29, his fiance Silvia Malnati, 27; husband Angelo Vito Gasparro, 45, and wife Roberta Pistolato; Vittorio Zorloni, his fiancee Elisabetta Persanini, 38, and the couple’s five-year-old son Mattia; and couple Serena Cosentino, 27, and Mohammadreza Shahaisavandi, 23.
The Mottarone mountain served by the cable car is a popular tourist location, as it offers scenic views of Lake Maggiore and of the more distant Alps.
On the website of the cable car, it is advertised as ‘one of Italy’s most beautiful natural balconies’.
The northwestern region of Piedmont, where the accident happened, declared a day of mourning on Sunday, and urged its residents to observe a minute of silence at noon (1000 GMT)