MILAN: An Italian court on Wednesday dropped a case against former prime minister Giuseppe Conte and former health minister Roberto Speranza over their initial handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, a court document said.
Prosecutors in the northern city of Bergamo, the epicentre of the 2020 outbreak of Covid in Italy, had placed Conte, Speranza and 17 other people, under investigation for manslaughter and mishandling the epidemic.
The two politicians’ case was automatically transferred to a separate court that deals with government figures.
The three judges of the ministerial court in the northern city of Brescia wrote in their ruling that the delays and omissions alleged by prosecutors concerned administrative managers and could not be blamed on a health minister.
As for allegations that Conte should have locked down badly affected small towns around Bergamo earlier in the outbreak, the court said he could not have done so as the official scientific committee did not think it was necessary.
“It was therefore a political decision not subject to judicial scrutiny,” the judges said in their ruling.
Speranza welcomed the court ruling. “I am very relieved by this decision. I really did everything I could in those terrible days to defend the health of Italians,” he said in a statement.
Conte made no immediate comment. In March he said he had worked “with the greatest commitment during one of the harshest moments experienced by our republic”.
The association of Covid victims’ relatives said they were disappointed and bitter, calling the court ruling “a slap in the face for us and for the whole of Italy”.
The remaining 17 suspects are still waiting to hear whether the Bergamo Public Prosecutor’s Office will request that they be put on trial or whether it will ask for the case to be dropped.