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France – Men sentenced for Mont Blanc fire

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A French court has found 13 individuals and companies guilty of manslaughter over the Mont Blanc tunnel fire that killed 39 people in 1999.

Among them, Gerard Roncoli, the head of tunnel security, was given a six-month jail term, plus 24 months suspended.

Gilbert Degrave, the Belgian driver of the lorry in which the blaze started, got a four-month suspended sentence.

The court dropped the charges against Sweden’s Volvo Group, which made the lorry, which was carrying foodstuffs.

The court had heard that there was no evidence of a design fault in the Volvo lorry.

Two individuals were also acquitted.

Fines

Remy Chardon, the former president of the French company running the tunnel was given a two-year suspended jail term and fined 15,000 euros (£10,355).

Michel Charlet, mayor of the town of Chamonix, was given a six-month suspended term and the same fine.

According to French news agency AFP, six other people received suspended jailed terms and fines and three French and Italian firms received fines of up to 150,000 euros (£103,550).

The fire apparently started in Mr Degrave’s truck carrying flour and margarine. The blaze trapped cars, lorries and people and burned for more than two days.

The tunnel between France and Italy was badly damaged and remained closed for three years.

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