Driver in deadly Belgian carnival crash charged with manslaughter
The driver of a car that killed six people when it ploughed into a crowd of carnival-goers in Belgium has been charged with manslaughter, prosecutors said Tuesday.
he driver of a car that killed six people when it ploughed into a crowd of carnival-goers in Belgium has been charged with manslaughter, prosecutors said Tuesday.
he suspect named as Paolo F, 34, was remanded in custody by a judge at an overnight hearing, while his cousin who was the passenger in the car was charged with failing to assist people in danger and released on bail.
he pre-dawn collision on Sunday, which killed six and left 10 seriously wounded, happened as costumed residents gathered for the festivities in the village of Strepy-Bracquegnies.
he tragedy has shocked Belgium, where street parades are common during the season of Lent, a tradition that was making its return after being interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Prosecutors said the driver admitted travelling at 90 kilometres (55 miles) an hour in a 50 kilometre zone in his powerful BMW car as he returned with his cousin from a night club.
But they said indications were that he had tried to brake to avoid the impact.
he crash was so violent that one victim came through the windscreen and ended up in the car, prosecutors said. The driver, “in a state of shock”, only stopped several hundred metres further on.
His lawyer said a judge accepted that the collision was an accident after the driver claimed he had been talking to his cousin just before careening into the “wall of humanity”.
“In a few seconds, he was faced with a tragedy, the windscreen exploded, he himself was covered with blood. He could not see anything, heard screams, blows to his vehicle,” lawyer Frank Discepoli told broadcaster RTBF.
“He totally recognises his recklessness” but “it was purely accidental”.
he driver — a deliveryman who lives in the local area — has in the past had his licence revoked for speeding.
Prosecutors earlier said that the driver had been found to be slightly over the legal alcohol limit after taking a breathalyser test.
A saliva swab had not shown any traces of drugs, but results of a blood test were pending.
Manslaughter in Belgium is punishable by up to five years in prison. But the public prosecutor’s office has not ruled out the possibility that the charge could change during the investigation.