Six weeks after the start of the trial, around forty survivors, injured people, relatives of the seven deceased victims or representatives of railway unions will testify at the bar of the Evry criminal court until Monday. In all, 435 victims have been identified and among them, 184, including 9 legal persons, are civil parties and only a small quarter have decided to testify.
The court must, until June 17, establish the responsibilities of each in the derailment of an Intercités Paris-Limoges train at Brétigny-sur-Orge station on July 12, 2013, killing seven people and causing hundreds of physical and psychological.
The manager who carried out the last surveillance tour, SNCF Réseau (which succeeded Réseau Ferré de France, RFF, track manager) and the Société Nationale SNCF (criminal heiress of SNCF Infra, responsible for maintenance) are judged for ” manslaughter” and “involuntary injury”.
The reversal of a splint, a sort of large staple connecting two rails, caused the accident. The investigation concluded that there was a slow process of degradation of the switchgear, combined with faulty monitoring. A hypothesis disputed by the SNCF, which attributes the accident to an undetectable defect in the steel.
“For more than a month we have had the feeling that the audience is confronted with technique, jargon and often lies.
The statements of the victims will bring this case back to what it is: an appalling human tragedy which requires splitting the armor”, hopes one of the lawyers for the civil parties, Me Gérard Chemla.
According to him, the victims will express “their reality and the discrepancy they feel in the face of the speeches of irresponsibility they have suffered since the opening of the trial”, continued the lawyer for the National Federation of Victims of Attacks and collective accidents (Fenvac).
– “Reclaiming the trial” –
These hearings are “an important moment in the trial” because the civil parties “will in a way reclaim the trial which sometimes takes them away from the consideration they expect”, abounds Thierry Gomes, president of the association “Entraide et defense victims of the Brétigny disaster” (EDVCB).
“Criminal trial hearings do not reflect any empathy and certain testimonies that are difficult to admit create additional trauma for them,” regrets Mr. Gomes, who also lost his parents, broke on the station platform.
“I drove my mother on this train which killed her”, said Florence Jannot, 41, before the trial.
Even if “too many people are missing on the defendant’s bench”, including maintenance managers and SNCF executives, she hopes that these hearings will put the victims back at the heart of the trial.
From the start, the often heated debates between the defense of the SNCF represented by Me Emmanuel Marsigny and the lawyers for the civil parties have been very technical, against a backdrop of expert battles.
The defense lawyers reject the thesis of the examining magistrates which points to a general failure of maintenance. For this, the lawyers rely in particular on witnesses, experts or railway workers to explain their thesis, supported since the start of the investigation nine years ago, namely that this accident was unpredictable and caused by a sudden rupture of the ‘steel.
After the hearing of the civil parties, the trial, chaired by Cécile Louis-Loyant, will continue with the start of the pleadings of the lawyers of the civil parties for four days from June 7.
The requisitions of the prosecution will take place on June 14, followed by the pleadings of the defense lawyers.