The Astrasol case is not over, as plaintiffs are scrambling to block an appeal that challenges a court ruling last year that found defendants were responsible for causing a cancer cluster in a Nicosia residential area.
The main lawsuit was filed by the parents of 11-year-old boy who died of cancer in the Latchia municipality, but other residents and former employees joined in a class action, where the Nicosia District Court ruled against the defendants last year.
The plaintiffs successfully argued in court that the factory, which violated heath standards and exceeded safety thresholds in the use methylene chloride, was responsible for causing cancer and other problems, including odour and noise pollution.
The list of defendants included government agencies that were accused of violating zoning regulations or disregarding occupational obligations, such as taking regular measurements to help prevent emissions violations.
The judge relied on local studies which demonstrated it was likely that the violations could have caused cancer
The Legal Services Department was also found guilty as the state’s legal representative.
But in February, Attorney General Costas Clerides filed an appeal, listing 16 reasons, such as the lower court decision violating the constitution, ruling on a number of charges by improperly grouping different defendants together for the same violation category or issuing other rulings that were erroneous.
In March, the plaintiffs filed a petition against the appeal, asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal, citing pain and suffering on the part of the plaintiffs and other parties to the lawsuit as well as the lack of compensation which has yet to be determined.
Even though the conviction was based on local studies, no scientific proof was offered in court that Astrasol’s health violations had in fact caused cancer. But the judge relied on local studies which demonstrated it was likely that the violations could have caused cancer.
The court found the defendants guilty on the basis of sharing responsibility on a series of violations, while calling for compensation for the many victims to be assessed separately, on a case by case basis.
The decision last year was hailed by the public as a good step against violations and corruption in the government.
The Supreme Court will examine the petition against the appeal on June 27.
Astrasol operated for a number of decades, processing shoe soles, but it closed down in 2009.