Authorities could face charges over blaze tragedy
25 September 2006, GUADALAJARA — A judicial investigation into Spain's worst forest-fire tragedy found managers could face criminal charges linked to the deaths of 11 fire fighters.
25 September 2006
GUADALAJARA — A judicial investigation into Spain's worst forest-fire tragedy found managers could face criminal charges linked to the deaths of 11 fire fighters.
The regional court in Guadalajara, where the tragedy happened last year, reviewed the case and found "possible indications of criminality" or "punishable negligence" among the forest and fire brigade management.
Until now, it had been thought a group of walkers who caused the original blaze by starting a barbeque bore sole responsibility.
The move came after the families of those who died and the opposition conservative Popular Party requested access to all the phone calls made in the 48 hours before the tragedy happened.
The original investigating judge refused access.
The regional court has now authorised the transcription of more than 3,000 telephone calls during three days of forest fires.
Concepción Espejel, president of the court, said the calls could reveal "some type of punishable negligence by one or more of the forest managers".
The emergency calls reveal forest authorities first declined the help of local people to battle the blazes.
Even when they knew 11 people had been killed, they refused to tell local people, despite repeated requests.
Aerial teams, dropping water on the blaze, did not know there was still another team of fire fighters in the middle of the fire.
Experts said there was a lack of coordination of the firefighting teams.
But the death of the 11 volunteers was due to an accident, said the court.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news