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Crash victims file murder charges against rail firm

Sophie Inge · 16 Sep 2013, 16:54

Published: 16 Sep 2013 16:54 GMT+02:00

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Two months after the deadly rail disaster in Brétigny-sur-Orge, just south of Paris on July 12th, a lawyer has filed charges for “aggravated attempted murder” and “murder”.

In all seven people died in the crash when a rush-hour Intercity train from Paris to Limoges left the track as it entered the station and Bretigny and ploughed into a busy station platform.

In an interview with MYTF1News, lawyer Xavier-Philippe Gruwez said he was filing the charges against the Réseau Ferré de France (RFF), the company that owns and maintains the French national railway network.

An initial investigation by French rail authorities found that the derailment was caused by a connecting bar at a switchpoint, that had come lose.

Gruwez had already filed charges of "organised sabotage" in relation to the crash but said the new more serious charge against RFF was to increase the pressure in order to "accelerate the investigation".

“The initial charge for ‘organized sabotage’ that we filed was the first necessary step in the inquiry," Gruwez said. The latest charges he said "may help us to better understand things and ask better questions.”

In an interview with TF1 TV Grewez spoke of "many errors at the heart of the organization RFF" but refused to enter into more detail. 

When asked about the victims he was representing he said: “They are not doing well. For those who lost their relatives, they are suffering. They don’t know who to turn to and expect a great deal from the legal process. They hope that the investigation will bring them answers to what happened and that it will never happen again.”

The first formal legal complaint in relation to the train crash was filed on July 26th, two weeks after the accident occurred, by the family of a victim of the derailment.

The charge of manslaughter was lodged by the family of a 19-year-old man from the Paris suburb of Étampes who was killed on the platform as he waited for train.

In the aftermath of the crash French President François Hollande promised that investigations would get underway  immediately to determine the cause of the fatal crash. 

Story continues below…

But it appears problems in the probe have since emerged.

Last week, Le Figaro quoted a report written by examining magistrates in which they complained of errors and omissions in the initial investigation.

Anomalies included discrepancies in the numbering of the carriages of the train, a brake disc that was found in the office of an SNCF employee, and the discovery that around 40 bolts were missing from the train track, many more than were initially reported. 

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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