JANUARY 28, 2003
The Senna Trial - what is going on?
The decision by the Italian Supreme Court to reject the 1999 appeal into the Ayrton Senna trial is based on nothing more than legal procedures. The decision of the appeal court was based on Article 530 of the Italian penal code which states that "when no more evidence is presented during an appeal and when the first case has ended with a full acquittal, the accusation has to be declared non-existent". The argument put forward to the Supreme Court was that there was more evidence that had not been seen but that the prosecution had been unable to present it to the court.
The argument rests on whether or not data could be retrieved from the black box taken from Senna's FW16. There was a dispute over whether or not the box was too badly damaged in the crash with Williams and Renault engineers saying it had been impossible to retrieve the data but an Imola official saying that the box had not looked damaged to him.
There was also a question mark over 1.6 seconds of videotape footage which the prosecution claimed had not been handed over. The Formula One Television staff said that the footage did not exist and that they had switched away from Senna's car just before the accident by pure coincidence.
Any attempts to re-examine the evidence will be hampered by the fact that the car was eventually handed over to the Williams team, the Italians having concluded that there was nothing else it could reveal. The car was then destroyed by the team. Williams is confident the original acquittal verdict will be upheld.
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