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Rights Court Flunks Italy for Waste Crisis

(CN) - Italy is liable for a 15-year waste crisis that harmed citizens, Europe's human rights court ruled, agreeing with the European Union's top court.

Claims that corruption and fraud in waste-management contracts were a "force majeure," out of Italy's control, failed to drum up much support in the European Court of Human Rights.

The decision mirrors one that the European Court of Justice also reached in 2010.

A group of residents and workers from Somma Vesuvia, in the Campania region near Naples, had brought the complaint to the rights court, alleging that the waste crisis damaged their health and the environment.

From 1994 to 2009, Campania declared a state of emergency because authorities were unable to properly dispose of urban waste.

Piles of trash accumulated on the streets of Naples in 2007, and Somma Vesuvia residents were forced "to live in an environment polluted by the piling-up of rubbish on the streets" for six months in early 2008, according to the court.

The Strasbourg rights tribunal found that the Italian government could have acted more effectively to resolve the waste problem, denying claims that the problem was out of its hands because of corruption and fraud.

Italy's legal system failed to provide citizens an adequate means for addressing the problem, the court added.

It confirmed a violation of the right to life and right to remedy, granting legal costs. Instead of awarding damages to the 18 applicants, the court said its own findings were redress enough.

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