Friday, March 5, 1999 Published at 03:16 GMT
Anger over cable car verdict
Relatives left the court with heads bowed after the verdict
The acquittal of a United States marine pilot accused of causing last year's cable car disaster in the Italian Alps has provoked shock and indignation in Italy.
He was found not guilt of involuntary manslaughter and of the lesser charges of destruction of property and dereliction of duty over the incident, which happened at the ski resort of Mount Cermis in February 1998.
"With that kind of a massacre, with so many casualties, I think it is a duty to ensure that justice is done," he said.
Italian Justice Minister Oliviero Diliberto said his country was not looking for a scapegoat but wanted the truth.
A State Department spokesman in Washington said the strength of ties between the United States and Italy had enabled the two countries to work through the tragedy.
'A Slap in the face'
In Italy, leading Communist MP, Armando Cossutta, described it as a slap in the face for Italy and for the memory of the victims.
Alberto Mioni, who represents the Association of the Relatives of Victims of Cermis, said: "It would surely have been better and more serious to have had the trial here in Italy." He said he feared compensation claims would also be denied.
Locals claim the disaster was an accident waiting to happen, because US military pilots often flew too low and too fast in the area and, they say, they are still doing so.
Residents say the loss of 20 lives has not stopped what they claim is a pattern of reckless low-level flying.
Lawyers for the seven German families are asking for $5m damages for each victim.
The United States gave $20m to the people of Cavalese to build a new cable car, but the Pentagon said it would not settle any additional claims.