“What we wanted to hear, we heard it, is the word guilty”, reacted Stéphan Mathieu, the father of one of the teenagers who died in this accident, with five other comrades, at the Millas level crossing. , in the Pyrénées-Orientales, on December 14, 2017.
“I’m relieved that it’s over” even if the decision contains “no surprises”, he added, in Marseille, immediately after the judgment was delivered by the city court. But for him the detail of the sentence was “not the most important”, the driver was “already in her own prison”.
The lawyers of Nadine Oliveira, 53, tried for “homicides and involuntary injuries” after this accident which had also left 17 injured, had asked for the release of their client, hospitalized since September 22 and absent at the hearing on Friday. They immediately announced their intention to appeal.
“We have a bit of the impression that we are not quite in a state of law”, lambasted one of the defendant’s lawyers, Me Louis Fagniez, questioning the impartiality of the court, in particular in the appointment of railway experts.
Sentenced to five years in prison, four of which were suspended, the bus driver will serve her sentence at home, under an electronic bracelet, said the president of the Marseille criminal court, Céline Ballerini.
This firm year was decided by the president of the court “to take into account the punitive dimension” that the sentence must include in the face of the “irreversible consequences” of the facts, explained the magistrate, in the extraordinary trial room of the judicial court of Marseille, the only city with Paris to host a center specializing in collective accidents.
– “A derisory sentence” –
“For me it is a decision without surprise, she is declared guilty, that is the most important”, reacted Me Gérard Chemla, lawyer for around forty civil parties, welcoming a sentence “adapted” and “measured “: “The court is aware of how badly she experienced the hearing and the disorders that this caused for her”.
Thursday September 22, barely four days after the opening of her trial, Nadine Oliveira had collapsed at the helm before being evacuated by the marine firefighters. She has been hospitalized ever since, in psychiatry, in Marseille.
The court also decided to cancel Ms. Oliveira’s driving licenses, with a ban on returning them for five years. Likewise, he is “permanently” prohibited from exercising any function in the field of transport.
In Perpignan, where seventy people, i.e. almost all of the civil parties, attended the retransmission of the deliberation live at the courthouse, Fabien Bourgeonnier, father of one of the deceased children, said he was “very happy that the president followed the requisitions of the prosecutor”. “As a parent, I would have preferred her to take life in prison, but that would not have brought my child back”, conceded the president of the association “in memory of our angels”.
Lambasting “a ridiculous sentence”, Me Corinne Serfati, lawyer for the family of Yonas Alquier, one of the college students who died in the accident, estimated that her clients were “disappointed” but also “appeased to see the driver recognized as the only culprit “.
During the trial, in a balanced indictment, prosecutor Michel Sastre recalled that “children’s lives have been taken away, (…) families destroyed”, and that for the victims, it is indeed “perpetuity”. which was inflicted on them.
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.