Shipbuilder on trial over fatal accident

9th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

9 October 2007, SAINT NAZAIRE (AFP) - The French builder of the giant luxury liner Queen Mary 2 went on trial Monday accused of manslaughter over the collapse in 2003 of a walkway that killed 16 people.

9 October 2007

SAINT NAZAIRE (AFP) - The French builder of the giant luxury liner Queen Mary 2 went on trial Monday accused of manslaughter over the collapse in 2003 of a walkway that killed 16 people.

Shipbuilder Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique, its subcontractor Endel, which built the walkway, and four employees of each firm face up to three years imprisonment for involuntary injury and manslaughter.

The accident took place in November 2003 while the Queen Mary 2 -- the world's largest liner at the time of its construction -- was in dry dock at Saint Nazaire while undergoing pre-delivery sea trials.

"I want justice to be done," said a visibly moved Marlene Cassard, who lost her husband, brother and three close friends in the accident.

"I thought it was the end. I fell on people and people fell on me," she said, teary-eyed. "I opened my eyes and found myself in the midst of torn bodies and heaps of metal."

Her son Eric added: "We just want the defendants to say 'Yes, we messed up', for them to assume their responsibilities."

"We are well aware that nobody wanted to kill anyone, but the victims need to know the truth," said Yves Violette, a representative of the 130 civil plaintiffs in the case, which is due to run until October 23.

The 17-storey, 150,000-tonne ocean liner entered service in January 2004 with her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, followed by a series of Caribbean cruises and a trip to Rio de Janeiro.

It was overtaken last year as the world's largest cruise ship by the Finnish-built Freedom of the Seas, which can carry up to 4,400 passengers to the Queen Mary's 2,620.

"I find it incomprehensible that there is no one who says 'I am after all responsible for something,'" said the husband of a woman who died in the tragedy. "How do these people sleep at night?" he added.

Patrick Boissier, the head of Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique said Monday: "We have undeniably a moral responsibility for the accident."

Endel, through its lawyer, said the gangway should never have been opened to the public.

AFP

Subject: French news

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