Former managers of Italy's highway operator arrested in relation to probe on Genoa bridge collapse

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ROME, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- At least three former managers of Italy's highway operator were put under house arrest here on Wednesday, in connection with a probe on the 2018 collapse of a major bridge in the city of Genoa, according to local media and the company.

The Morandi Bridge, a busy highway viaduct in the northwestern port city of Genoa, collapsed on Aug. 14, 2018, killing 43 people.

The investigation is being run by the city's prosecution office.

The three executives arrested include former Chief Executive Officer of Autostrade per l'Italia S.p.A (ASPI) Giovanni Castellucci, the former maintenance manager and the former central operations manager, Ansa news agency reported.

Three more people are involved in the probe and subjected to interdictory measures rather than house arrest, and at least two of them are still currently employed in the company.

All these people were investigated on charges of endangering transport safety and fraud in public supplies.

"With respect to the two technical employees, the company has activated the procedures provided by the contract for the immediate suspension from service," Autostrade said in a statement on Wednesday.

Launched in 2019, this probe was an offshoot of the main investigation on the Genoa bridge collapse and specifically concerned alleged safety flaws of some noise barriers installed in sections of the Italian highway network, including Genoa's one.

The magistrate ordering Wednesday's arrests believed these barriers were not removed despite the suspects of their flaws in order to avoid the costs to be entailed, Ansa news agency reported citing the judge's order.

In its statement, the managing company argued that "all of these barriers have already been checked and secured with appropriate technical interventions between the end of 2019 and January 2020."

It said a plan to replace them was agreed with the Transport Ministry at the beginning of this year. The plan is ongoing and will last until mid-2021 at least, according to the company.

The renovation works would cost about 170 million euros (199.7 million U.S. dollars), and would be entirely covered by the company, ASPI said. Enditem

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