The BBC has reported that 11 former managers of Italian tyre giant Pirelli have been convicted of manslaughter over the deaths of 20 workers who were exposed to asbestos.

A court in Milan gave the managers, which include two ex-CEOs, jail terms of up to seven years and eight months.

All eleven were Pirelli board members between 1979 and 1989 when, prosecutors said, workers were exposed to asbestos at the firm’s Milan factory.

Lawyers for Pirelli have said they will appeal against the convictions and have said they were confident in how managers responded “on the basis of scientific evidence available to date”.

All the workers died from tumours or lung disease that prosecutors said was linked to asbestos exposure.

Relatives for a number of the victims were in court and welcomed the convictions.

“We showed that when you are united, you can win,” they were quoted by Italian news agency Ansa as saying. “This time, the bosses have been convicted.”

Most families have already settled compensation claims out of court, Italian media report, although the court awarded more than €500,000 in damages to one family and other injured parties.

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