An appeals court in Turin, Italy, has upheld the conviction of a Swiss man for negligence in some 2,000 asbestos-related deaths blamed on contamination from a construction company.

Stephan Schmidheiny, a former executive and key shareholder in the Swiss construction firm Eternit, was sentenced Monday to 18 years, up from 16 years meted out by a lower court in 2012.

A Belgian shareholder, who was convicted in the first trial, died before the latest verdict.

Schmidheiny's attorneys said they would appeal the verdict to Italy's top criminal court.

The Turin court, by increasing the sentence, held the defendant responsible for two other Eternit plants, plus the Turin-area one covered in the first trial.

Prosecutors argued Eternit failed to stop asbestos fibers left over from production from spreading across the region.