Italian prosecutor hopes Genoa bridge trial will start by year end

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ROME (Reuters) - The Italian prosecutor leading the investigation into a deadly 2018 bridge disaster said on Tuesday he hoped suspects in the case could go on trial by the end of the year.

Prosecutors last week concluded their inquiry into the Genoa bridge collapse, that killed 43 people, and indicated they were preparing possible charges against dozens of former employees of infrastructure group Atlantia as well as a number of state officials.

Under Italian law, once an investigation has been closed, suspects have three weeks to respond. At that point, prosecutors can seek court authorisation to press charges.

Speaking to a group of foreign reporters, Genoa's top prosecutor Francesco Cozzi said he hoped a judge would decide this autumn on pressing charges, with the formal trial opening before the end of December.

"It is clear that this trial is considered a priority," he said.

He added that a special courtroom would have to be created to house such a large case, predicting that more than 200 people, including defendants, lawyers, judges and journalists, would follow proceedings.

In a document on the probe's findings seen by Reuters, prosecutors said the bridge collapse was triggered by the rupture of the load-bearing cables.

Managers at Atlantia units Autostrade per l'Italia and SPEA allegedly avoided proper checks of the infrastructure and did not correct serious issues that started to emerge only a few years after the viaduct opened in 1967, the document showed.

Former and current officials at the transport ministry allegedly failed to oversee necessary maintenance, prosecutors said.

There was no immediate comment last week from those facing potential charges.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; editing by Francesca Landini)