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Accident in France - driver and van owner charged with manslaughter

frenchaccidentMercVanRicardo Videira Pinheiro, the 19-year-old driver of the adapted Renault van that crashed in Montbeugny, central France, killing 12 of the occupants, was charged on Thursday with manslaughter and aggravated bodily harm.

Pinheiro’s uncle, 43-year-old Arménio Pinto Martins, is the registered owner of the vehicle which had been poorly and illegally adapted to carry passengers in its load space. Martins also has been accused of the same crimes, according to information published today in news service, La Montagne.

The two Portuguese nationals have been questioned by a judge for two days and asked for some more time to submit full details of what happened.

Ricardo Pinheiro and his uncle’s request has been accepted by the judge who has agreed to give them a few days and will see them again on Monday, April 4th.

The men are in pre-trial detention in Yzeure prison but have access to a Portuguese and two French lawyers and have been visited by the Portuguese consul.

The accident happened last Thursday March 24th as twelve Portuguese emigrants living in Switzerland were being transported to Portugal where they intended to spend their Easter holidays.

It seems clear that the van had been adapted to cram passengers into the load space. Police have been gathering evidence of makeshift, non-standard seating which offered zero protection when the vehicle drifted into oncoming traffic and hit an Italian meat lorry head-on.

The Moulins prosecutor, Pierre Gagnoud, has revealed facts about the legal procedure but does not want to communicate further about the case and the circumstances of the accident.

Lawyers for the accused, William Hillairaud and Antoine Jauvat, have been working with a lawyer from Lisbon and said, "We asked for a further period of four days. Our clients have been in a psychiatric unit for four days before leaving it on Tuesday to be placed in custody. They remain in emotional shock.”

Reportedly, the van was not equipped nor licensed to carry thirteen people and the driver had no license for this type of transport.

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