Nadine Oliveira, 53, will be present at the hearing, which is due to start at 10:30 a.m., assured her lawyer, Jean Codognès, to AFP: “It will be a test. She will give her version of the facts. Her position does not hasn’t changed since the beginning. She says the barriers were up and other witnesses say so.”
But “she is destroyed, she is more than traumatized by this accident”, he added before this trial where his client will find himself on Tuesday facing the story of the injured children who agreed to testify.
So far, 123 civil parties have joined this “non-standard trial”. But others could appear on Monday, according to Olivier Leurent, president of the Marseilles court, which has a specialized center to investigate and judge collective accidents in the South-East of France.
On December 14, 2017, shortly after 4:00 p.m., the violent collision between this school bus transporting 23 children from Millas college and a regional express train (TER) at a level crossing left six dead and 17 injured, eight of whom were very seriously. In shock, the bus had been cut in two.
The technical expertise carried out during the investigation concludes that the driver, who was used to this route, forced “the closed half-barrier of the said level crossing while a regional express train was arriving”.
For the investigators, “the most probable hypothesis, on the technical level” is indeed “that of a level crossing closed at the time of the accident”, even if the testimonies attesting to the opposite, including those of certain children, “are the majority”.
This question and the configuration of the premises will be central points during the debates, scheduled to last three weeks before the Marseille criminal court, in a special room that can accommodate 400 people.
“Some of my clients regret that there is only Mrs. Oliveira before the court, believing that other circumstances may have favored the occurrence of the accident”, explained Me Marie Mescam, lawyer for 37 civil parties, including seven children.
For civil parties who have difficulty moving, the trial will also be broadcast at the Palais des Congrès in Perpignan.
At the end of the trial, the judgment should be deliberated and delivered before Christmas.