Italian police said Wednesday they had arrested three people as part of the investigation into a cable car crash in the mountains that left 14 people dead, including five Israelis.
The trio, all involved in management of the cable car, are accused of deliberately deactivating the emergency brake that could have stopped it slamming into the side of the Mottarone mountain when the cable snapped on Sunday afternoon.
“The public prosecutors office has ordered three arrests for removal or omission of precautions against accidents at work,” a spokesman for the carabinieri police told AFP.
Of the 15 people travelling in the cable car at Mottarone, a scenic location overlooking Lake Maggiore in the northwest region of Piedmont, 14 were killed, while a five-year-old boy remains in hospital.
Italian news agencies named the three suspects as Luigi Nerini, the head of Ferrovie del Mottarone, the firm which manages the cable car, and two other managers, Gabriele Tadini and Enrico Perocchio.
Local Carabinieri police official Alberto Cicognani told Radiotre radio station that the emergency brake was deactivated after a malfunction.
“There were malfunctions in the cable car, the maintenance team was called, they did not fix the problem, or only in part,” he said.
“To avoid further interruptions in the service, they chose to leave ‘the fork’ which prevents the emergency brake from working.”
Cicognani claimed all three men admitted what had happened.
In an interview with AFP on Tuesday, before the arrests, local chief prosecutor Olimpia Bossi described what happened on Sunday.
“The cable, it is clear, that was the leading cable, snapped,” she said.
“The braking system did not work -- the system that blocks the cabin on the load-bearing cable, which is a system that works in emergencies, which must work in emergencies when an accident such as the breakage of the cable could occur.”
She added: “No one could imagine that what was a Sunday outing turned into a nightmare that ended tragically.”