24 Dec 2020: Families of Italian COVID-19 victims seek $122 million from government
The families of people who died of COVID-19 in Italy have sued the government, seeking €100 million ($122 million) in damages.
Italy was notably the first Western country to be hit by the coronavirus. The country has witnessed over 70,000 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic, marking the highest death toll in Europe and the fifth-highest in the world.
Here are more details.
Lawsuit: 500 relatives of victims file civil lawsuit
Roughly 500 relatives of people who died of COVID-19 in Italy said on Wednesday that they had initiated legal action against regional and national authorities.
The civil lawsuit has been filed by members of a committee called "Noi Denunceremo" (we will go to court).
The committee had been established in April to represent the people who died in Bergamo, one of Lombardy's worst-affected cities.
Lawsuit: Lawsuit names Italy's PM, Health Minister, Lombardy Governor
The group's president, Luca Fusco, said, "This case is our Christmas gift to those who should have done what they were supposed to do, but didn't."
The lawsuit was presented in a Rome court against Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Health Minister Roberto Speranza, and the Governor of Lombardy.
Notably, Italy's first patient was detected in Lombardy, which later emerged as the hardest-hit region.
Recent news: WHO report sparked backlash over COVID-19 management
Last week, prosecutors in Bergamo had questioned a World Health Organization official, Francesco Zambon, who had authored a report on Italy's response to COIVD-19.
The report had said that Italy's hospitals had been "improvised, chaotic and creative." It said, that it "took some time before formal guidance became available."
The report was initially published on May 13, but quickly removed from the WHO website.
Allegations: Committee says government failed to tackle outbreak
In its defense, the WHO said that the report had "factual inaccuracies."
However, the Noi Denunceremo committee asserted that Lombardy authorities and the central government failed to tackle the outbreak.
They said rapid action for containment of the outbreak could have avoided the need for a national lockdown and the resultant economic damage.
The group seeks €259,000 per person in damages.