An Italian judge has ordered the release from custody of three suspects in a cable car disaster that led to 14 deaths, including five members of the same Israeli family, local media reported late Saturday.
According to Italian daily La Stampa, the judge ruled there were no grounds for keeping the three men in jail as they could not flee and there was no risk of evidence being tampered with.
The three - the manager of the cable car site, its engineer and the director of the service - are suspected of clamping the emergency brake on the aerial tramway.
This then apparently prevented the brake from engaging after the lead cable on the car snapped on May 23, sending the cabin plunging down 20 meters the mountainside and killing everyone onboard except for a five-year-old Israeli boy whose parents, great-grandparents and 2-year-old brother all perished.
Carabinieri Lt. Col. Alberto Cicognani said last week that at least one of the three suspects admitted to what happened.
He said the fork-shaped clamp had been placed on the emergency brake to deactivate it because the brake was engaging spontaneously and preventing the funicular from working.
The clamp was put on several weeks before the disaster as a temporary fix to prevent further service interruptions in the cable car line bringing sightseers to the top of the Mottarone peak overlooking Lake Maggiore.
It was still in place on the morning of the disaster, Cicognani told Sky TG24.
The bodies of the five Israelis - Amit and Tal Biran, their two-year-old son Tom, and Tal's grandparents Yitzhak Cohen and Barbara Konisky - were laid to rest in Israel last week.
Five-year-old Eitan is being treated in Regina Margherita Hospital in Torino and is accompanied by his father's sister, Aya. His condition is stable and he suffers from no neurological damage. He is fully conscious and closely monitored by doctors and psychologists.