Latin America & Caribbean

Once train crash: Argentine ex-ministers jailed

Relatives of victims of the 2012 Once train station crash, which resulted in 51 people dead and more than 700 people injured, react as they hear the sentence of the train crash trial outside a courtroom in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 29, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Relatives of the victims gathered outside the courthouse in Buenos Aires to call for justice

A court in Buenos Aires has given jail sentences to two former Argentine transport ministers for a train crash which killed 51 people in 2012.

Ricardo Jaime and Pablo Schiavi were given six- and eight-year sentences for negligence.

The accident, which injured 789 people, happened when a morning rush hour train hit the buffers at the Once rail station in the capital.

t was one of the worst train accidents in Argentina in decades.

The train driver received a three-year prison sentence.

Two of the directors of the company Trenes de Buenos Aires (TBA), which operated the rail line concession at the time, received sentences of between five and nine years.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Relatives held up signs with a picture depicting former Transport Minister Ricardo Jaime

After the accident, the government of Cristina Fernandez nationalised Argentina's rail system and implemented a huge renewal programme.

A large group of relatives of the victims and supporters gathered outside the court to hear the sentences.

Many applauded the court's decision, although some said the sentences were too low.

"I think this was a historic judgement," said Maria Lujan Rey, the mother of Lucas Menghini Rey, whose body was found three days after the crash.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The train hit the barrier at about 12mph (20km/h)

The train hit the barrier at about 12mph (20km/h), destroying the front of the engine and crushing the carriages into it from behind.

One of the carriages was driven nearly 6m (20ft) into the next.

The Buenos Aires rail system transports about four billion passengers a year, making it the biggest in South America.

In the 1990s most of it was privatised in the hope of boosting investment in infrastructure.

But little investment in the network happened since the companies were not obliged by contract to invest, and they had little incentive because they continued to receive income from state subsidies.

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