Italy convicts former Alitalia chiefs over 2008 bankruptcy

ROME, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Two former chief executives of Alitalia and three other former managers were given hefty jail terms on Monday over wrongdoing connected to the airline’s bankruptcy in 2008.

A Rome court sentenced Giancarlo Cimoli, who ran the company from 2004 to 2007, to eight years and eight months for culpable bankruptcy and market-rigging, while his predecessor Francesco Mengozzi got a five-year sentence.

After the 2008 bankruptcy a series of managers failed to turn the company around, despite the sale of a 25 percent stake to Air France KLM in 2009.

The chronically loss-making airline merged last year with Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad as part of a 1.76 billion-euro ($2 billion) rescue plan, and is now forecasting a return to profitability in 2017.

Former financial directors Gabriele Spazzadeschi and Pierluigi Ceschia both received sentences of more than six years.

All four jail sentences were longer than those requested by the public prosecutor and the four managers were ordered to pay damages of more than 355 million euros.

Cimoli, 75, a former head of Italy’s state railway, was also fined 240,000 euros and banned from holding a management role in any company for a year.

The managers are not expected to go to prison unless the sentences are confirmed after Italy’s lengthy appeals processes.

Three other former managers, Leopoldo Conforti, Giancarlo Zeni and Gennaro Tocci, were acquitted. (Writing by Gavin Jones; editing by Andrew Roche)