Yale Daily News: Asbestos case puts spotlight on honorary degree 

Posted on February 9, 2016

“THE GREAT TRIAL” by Dr Rosalba Altopiedi and Dr Sara Panelli

THE GREAT TRIAL by Dr Rosalba Altopiedi and Dr Sara Panelli

For many years, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) has stood in solidarity with the Italian Asbestos Victims’ Families (AFeVA) and others for truth and justice. While each life lost to asbestos-caused disease is tragic, hundreds of thousands of lives lost is unconscionable.

ADAO is proud to share an early release of “THE GREAT TRIAL” on February 10th at the “Should Yale Revoke Honorary Degree to Industrialist Prosecuted for Asbestos Deaths?” event concerning Stephan Schmidheiny sponsored by the Yale Global Justice Program and the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights.

Written by Dr Rosalba Altopiedi and Dr Sara Panelli, who were part of the prosecutorial team during the trial, The Great Trial uses evidence from the Eternit criminal trial in Italy to show why the trial court and the appeals court sentenced Eternit’s owner, Schmidheiny, to 18 years in jail and ordered him to pay millions in damages to the victims of Eternit’s toxic asbestos. Much of the trial evidence was seized by police from the public relations firm used by Schmidheiny and it shows a longstanding plan to protect the Swiss shareholder from bearing any responsibility, civil or criminal.

Asbestos case puts spotlight on Stephan Schmidheiny’s honorary degree from Yale CANVAEmbracing the First Amendment, ADAO is publishing the e-book free in English and Italian.  Just last December, Schmidheiny’s lawyers successfully threatened the original e-book publisher with a lawsuit in Switzerland and successfully had “The Great Trial” removed from circulation. ADAO has diligently followed this case and has posted over 30 blogs related to Stephan Schmidheiny which can be found here.

Schmidheiny inherited control of the giant Eternit asbestos-cement business, with factories around Europe and South America, in the 1970s. Immediately upon taking control, he called his managers together in Germany for instruction on asbestos and health issues. Plant managers were instructed in lying to workers, the public, and the press about hazards to workers, consumers, and the environment.

Casale Monferrato (pop. 35,000) has been ravaged by Eternit. On average, one person dies of mesothelioma every week.  The people of Casale were betrayed when the last appeal of Schmidheiny’s charges overturned the conviction as untimely (too many years had passed, the Court said).

In reinventing himself as a “green” businessman and philanthropist in the early 1990s, he wrote the book, “Changing Course:  A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment” about how business needs to operate with minimal damage to the environment.

In 1996, Yale awarded Schmidheiny an honorary doctorate and that same year the Brazilian government awarded him the Order of the Southern Cross, which is the country’s highest honor to a foreigner.

In 2013, after the Court of Appeal raised Schmidheiny’s sentence to 18 years, the people of Casale, through New Haven attorney Christopher Meisenkothen, pressed Yale to revoke its honorary degree to Schmidheiny.  This campaign was supported by ADAO, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, scores of Yale alumni, the Brazilian Association of People Exposed to Asbestos (ABREA), and scientists from around the world.  Yale officialdom steadfastly refused to discuss the evidence or follow the advice of Yale professors to appoint an expert independent faculty committee to review evidence unavailable to Yale in 1996 and make recommendations.

Stephan Schmidheiny has since been charged with murder in a new case expected to go to trial this year in Turin.  There is no statute-of-limitations defense for murder charges.

In pursuit of truth and justice,

Linda Reinstein

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