The criminal court of Marseille, the only city with Paris to host a center specializing in collective accidents, will deliver its judgment at 2:00 p.m., probably in the absence of the defendant, still hospitalized in psychiatry.

Thursday September 22, barely four days after the opening of her trial for manslaughter and involuntary injury, Nadine Oliveira, 53, had been “lightned”, in the words of one of her lawyers. Taken by an irrepressible crisis of tears, she had ended up being evacuated by the marine-firefighters.

Hearing the heartbreaking stories of some of the 17 teenagers injured in this drama, on December 14, 2017, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, “affected” her a lot: for the first time, she visualized the wounds of the children, “it was like if reality arose, whereas until now, all of this remained very theoretical for her”, commented her lawyer, Me Jean Codognès, to AFP.

Absent from the last two weeks of her trial, Ms. Oliveira, the only defendant in this case, was first admitted to cardiology, before joining a psychiatric hospital in Marseille.

His lawyer hopes for a release, but the prosecutor Michel Sastre has requested a five-year prison sentence, four of which are suspended on probation, accompanied by obligations of care and compensation for the victims.

He also requested the cancellation of his tourist and passenger transport driving licenses, as well as a permanent ban on carrying out any professional activity related to children.

– “Unconscious defense mechanism” –

Because for the representative of the public prosecutor, this “tragedy” is indeed the result of a “fault” of the driver, due to her inattention and her recklessness.

Before the tragedy, Nadine Oliveira had taken this level crossing N.25 almost 400 times, and she had never seen it closed. During the investigation as at the hearing, she always maintained that the barriers were open on the day of the tragedy, despite the expertise and certain testimonies, in particular that of a young girl seated at the front of the bus.

She also spoke of a “black hole” at the time of the accident.

But “the problem of the file is not to know if the barrier was raised or lowered, it is to have the proof that it was lowered”, insists Me Codognès.

Many civil parties saw a form of denial in the driver: “it is not a question of disputing the suffering of Mrs. Oliveira, but we would have liked that (this suffering) not be worn as a standard of her innocence but as the recognition of his responsibility”, had thus pleaded Me Marie Mescam, representative of the families of a deceased child and seven survivors.

There is “a lack of empathy” in Ms. Oliveira, but “I did not see in (her) attitude an absolute denial of what was committed”, nuanced the prosecutor: she “says what her brain believes to be the reality”, so as not to sink completely.

An analysis shared by one of the psychiatric experts who came to testify at the bar. This denial corresponds to “an unconscious defense mechanism”, explained Françoise Grau-Espel, who had examined Ms. Oliveira just a month after the accident, at the beginning of 2018: “We cannot at all speak of lying or manipulation”.

For one of the young victims, now almost of age and who lost a leg in the accident, anyway, “the driver is already dead”: she is “imprisoned in herself”, she had launched , by the voice of his lawyer.