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Pending legal proceedings

In addition to the lawsuits involving customers, suppliers and public administration which are discussed in the relative sections of this report, at the end of 2011 there were another 160 pending legal proceedings involving various issues concerning claims for compensation connected to the management of the services provided by Hera.
At the close of 2011, 88 criminal proceedings were pending; of these, 28 were initiated in 2011. Most of these proceedings regard non-compliance with environmental requirements or regulations, without significant damage to the environment. In 2011, 48 criminal proceedings were closed, mostly with dismissal of the charges or not-guilty verdicts.

With regard to the explosion caused by a gas leak from an underground pipe laid in the roadway, which occurred on 23 December 2006, in San Benedetto del Querceto, a village in the Apennines near Bologna, which caused the collapse of a building and the death of five people, the preliminary investigation phase was concluded in August 2009, and the Prosecutor submitted the request to commit to trial 6 employees and 5 former employees of the Hera Group. At the end of 2011, one Hera employee was committed to trial. The examination of the witnesses has started and hearings have been fixed for the whole of 2012.

With regard to the Forlė plant, criminal proceedings are pending against a number of Herambiente managers.
This trial initially concerned the alleged personal injuries from the atmospheric emissions of the waste-to-energy plant. Environmental and medical associations and citizen committees stood as plaintiffs together with the family of a child who passed away during the proceedings, who was alleged to have contracted a disease on account of the plant emissions.
The appraisal submitted by the Court-appointed Expert Witness had concluded that no causal link was identifiable between the illness that affected the child and the environmental exposure to pollutants issued by the waste-to-energy plant. With the decision handed down on 24 November 2010, the Judge of the Court of Forlė had ordered the dismissal, as request by the Prosecutor, of the charges pertaining to negligence-related injuries.
Within the sphere of the proceedings, the Prosecutor had presented a petition for prior attachment of the Forlė waste-to-energy plant as it is deemed hazardous, a petition rejected by the Forlė Court, appealed against by the Prosecutor and rejected by the court of review. The subsequent appeal for Cassation presented by the Prosecutor on 7 January 2011 concluded with the sentence of the Supreme Court of Cassation rejecting the appeal adopted on 13 July 2011 which justifies stating that the connotation of danger put forward by the accused has not been demonstrated effectively and currently, but emerges as "essentially based on presumptive elements which do not indicate a real possibility of compromise of the interests pertaining to the protection of health and the environment".
Now the proceedings are still pending against some Herambiente managers with regard to "technical issues" pertaining to the incineration plant, i.e. aspects of potential pollution and suspected administrative violations.