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Controversial ruling of QM2 walkway accident that killed 16

Tuesday, February 12th 2008 - 20:00 UTC
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Civil claimants in the Queen Mary 2 walkway trial reacted furiously on Monday after a Saint Nazaire French court acquitted eight individual defendants accused of a share of responsibility for the accident, which claimed 16 lives and left 29 people injured in November 2003, reports Lloyd's List.

They claimed that the decision to acquit the eight defendants, for whom the prosecutor had called for suspended three-year prison sentences, was shameful. They had already protested during the trial at the prosecutor's decision to recommend suspended rather than effective prison sentences. The court took a different view of the responsibilities of the Alstom group's Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard and its sub-contractor, Suez-group subsidiary Endel, fining them Euros 177.500 each for causing death and injury by accident. One man who lost his mother and grandfather in the accident walked out of the court during the judgment, crying, "No-one killed them then". He was applauded by other relatives of the dead and victims of the accident and the court chairman said, "I understand your pain but the court must judge in law." Chantiers, now known as Aker Yards France, and Endel were fined E 150.000 on the principal charges and ordered to pay 11 fines of E 2.500 on lesser charges. The shipyard was found to have failed to organise an effective "control chain" and Endel to have failed to build the walkway according to the relevant rules. The fines were nevertheless less than the E 225.000 fines demanded by the public prosecutor on the accidental killing and injury charges. The civil claimants, essentially victims of the accident or relatives of those who died, expressed anger during the trial over what they claim was the failure of the accused to admit responsibility for what had happened. They were particularly angry over what they claimed was the "game of ping pong" played by Chantiers and Endel. Chantiers claimed that the collapse of the walkway, which was built by Endel, was the result of a construction defect. Endel counter-claimed that the walkway, which gave access to the nearly completed cruise ship from the side of the building dock in which it was situated, had never been built for use by the general public. Some 50 people, local people invited to see the nearly completed ship and a team of cleaners, were on the walkway when it collapsed, causing them to fall 18 meters to the bottom of the dock.

Categories: Tourism, International.

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