Mont Blanc killer fire trial hears closing pleas

17th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

BONNEVILLE, France, April 17 (AFP) - The Mont Blanc tunnel inferno trial moves into its 12th and penultimate week here Monday, which will feature the state prosecutor's closing argument on responsibility for the fire that killed 39 people nearly six years ago.

BONNEVILLE, France, April 17 (AFP) - The Mont Blanc tunnel inferno trial moves into its 12th and penultimate week here Monday, which will feature the state prosecutor's closing argument on responsibility for the fire that killed 39 people nearly six years ago.  

State prosecutor Vincent Le Pannerer's closing speech should last much of Thursday and will recommend sentences for the 16 defendants in the case on Friday morning.  

Twelve individuals and four companies have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the fire in the tunnel linking France and Italy and the prosecutor is expected to recommend punishments ranging from fines of EUR 45,000 (USD 58,000) and three-year jail terms.  

The week will begin with arguments from various parties including defence lawyers, people close to the 39 victims, unions and associations.  

The lawyer for the families of victims Alain Jakubowicz will get the ball rolling on Monday as he argues on the various levels of guilt for each of the accused and the case in general.  

The court will then hear arguments from a range of civilian parties such as the national association of firemen and then the family of a fireman who died during the three days it took to put the blaze out.  

Families of the victims last week praised the work of the Bonneville court staging the trial saying it had made a "breathtaking" search for the truth.  

The final week of the trial will feature the defence's closing arguments where sentences or fines lower than those put forward by the prosecution will be recommended before the judge's final rulings.  

Amongst the defendants is the driver of the truck which caught fire half-way through the 11-kilometre (6.8-mile) tunnel through the Alps on March 24, 1999.    The blaze spread to 24 goods vehicles, nine cars and a motorbike backed up behind the stopped truck, creating thick smoke that killed most of the victims.   

The truck's manufacturer, Volvo, the Italian and French companies that manage the tunnel, safety regulators and the mayor of the nearby town of Chamonix are among the others in the dock.  

The tunnel was closed for three years after the blaze and underwent a major renovation, with computerised smoke detection equipment, extra security bays and a parallel escape shaft.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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