Home Business At the trial of the Brétigny accident, the victims are finally waiting...

At the trial of the Brétigny accident, the victims are finally waiting for the truth


Ordinarily, in a misdemeanor trial, defendants are required to stand while the charges are read. On April 25, at the opening of that of the Brétigny-sur-Orge (Essonne) rail disaster at the Évry court, the court exempted them if they wished. Because the list of the victims concerned is long, tragically long.

Seven people lost their lives after the derailment, at the entrance to Brétigny station, of the Corail Intercités train no. 3657 linking Paris to Limoges, this Friday July 12, 2013 at 5.11 p.m. Dozens of people were physically injured, hundreds in shock. At the enumeration of the names of deceased victims, fathers or mothers, children will come to the stand. Then the victims themselves, or their lawyers…

184 civil parties

The three defendants are being prosecuted for involuntary injuries and manslaughter. It is the national company SNCF, SNCF Réseau (the infrastructure manager), but also a senior executive from Brétigny-sur-Orge at the time. He was 24 years old at the time of the events and no longer works at the SNCF. Only 184 people filed civil suits – 175 natural persons and 9 legal persons (associations, unions) – out of the 435 identified victims. The SNCF has already paid compensation to victims for a total estimated at 12 million euros.

→ EXPLANATION. Brétigny-sur-Orge: the tragedy has changed safety procedures at SNCF

In the hall of the Évry court, a special reception system has been set up to complete the administrative formalities. But also to provide psychological support or to explain to them if necessary the legal process thanks to the association Mediavipp 91. “For many of the victims or their relatives, this is the first time they have found themselves in court,” explains Marie-Claude Desjeux, president of the National Federation of Victims of Collective Attacks or Accidents (Fenvac), according to which this moment, for many, brings to the surface the trauma of the event.

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Everyone’s responsibilities

Thierry Gomes has lost both parents. They weren’t on the train, but on a platform mowed down by overturned cars. Four of the seven people who died were not on the train. We hope that this criminal trial will allow us to get to the bottom of the case and to understand what happened and what are the responsibilities of eachsays Thierry Gomes, today president of Mutual aid and defense of the victims of the disaster of Brétigny (EDVCB), an association which was supported by Fenvac.

Also a member of EDVCB, Jean-Luc Marissal remembers everything. “I was sitting in seat 36 in the second car,” says this man who was the victim of bruises and wounds in particular to the head and arrested for three weeks. “Everyone knew that Brétigny was a strategic rail hub with sometimes more than 400 trains per day but with an aging infrastructure”, he said.

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→ ARCHIVE. Brétigny: the investigators evoke a problem of “collective culture” at the SNCF

Some seven years of investigation and battle of expertise will be deciphered during the trial, with in particular the listening of 25 witnesses and 4 experts to try to understand how and why a splint, a sort of large staple linking two rails, returned and acted as a springboard under a wheel of the Paris-Limoges which was traveling at 137 km/h (for a speed limited to 150 km/h on this section of track).

Insufficient staff

The prosecution accuses SNCF Réseau ” mistakes “ having “leads to the absence of early renewal” of the way or “lack of staff”as well as failures “in the organization, control and performance of maintenance operations” to the National SNCF Company. The railway worker will have to answer for“misjudgment”that of having carried out “only the last lane inspection”with attention “manifestly insufficient”.

→ REREAD. Did the SNCF manipulate the investigation into Brétigny?

In their order for dismissal, the inspecting magistrates pointed to ” encountered difficulties “ to collect from the SNCF “essential documents allowing maintenance operations to be traced”. They also regretted that the majority of the agents had been heard, before their hearings, by the company’s legal department. “to receive instructions”, according to the judges. SNCF’s lawyer, Me Marsigny, assured the contrary that SNCF had “always collaborated” to the investigation without attempting to interfere.

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