Italian police on Wednesday arrested three people in connection with the Alpine cable car disaster that left 14 people dead.
On Sunday, a gondola traveling on a cable that links the resort town of Stresa in northern Italy with Mount Mottarone plunged to the ground — killing all aboard apart from a 5-year-old Israeli boy.
Police said an investigation showed a clamp that was intentionally placed on the brake as a patchwork repair, preventing the brake from engaging after the lead cable snapped.
The suspects, all involved in the management of the cable car, are accused of deliberately deactivating the emergency brake.
Investigation finds maintenance failure
A Carabinieri police official told broadcasters Radiotre and Sky TG24 that the clamp was put on the brake several weeks ago and it was still in place on Sunday morning.
Alberto Cicognani said the staff responsible for maintenance chose to keep the patchwork repair to allow the cabin to continue operation.
He added that the brake couldn't function because of the clamp, "and this brought about the fact that, when the cable broke, the cabin fell backwards."
Prosecutor Olimpia Bossi told reporters that investigators believed that the patchwork repair was used with "the full knowledge" of the cable car company owners.
The ANSA news agency quoited Bossi as saying that investigators found that the safety braking system had been "tampered with" to prevent delays of the cable car service.
The mayor of the southern town of Diamante, the hometown of one of the victims, announced that the city would pursue legal action against those responsible.
"The first findings unfortunately give us a broad plane of responsibility and omissive guilt," Diamonte Mayor Ernesto Magorno said in a statement.
Sunday's crash was Italy's worst cable car disaster since 1998, when 20 people died after a low-flying US warplane accidentally cut through a supporting cable.
fb/rs (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)