Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio has prosecuted ex-planning Minister Julio de Video for his alleged responsibility in the 2012 Once train crash that killed 51 people.
De Vido is formally accused of being partly responsible for the derailment of the train causing fatalities and injuries, as well as fraudulent administration in public office. Bonadio also issued an embargo against De Vido for $600mn.
In December, former transport secretaries Juan Pablo Schiavi and Ricardo Jaime were sentenced to eight and six years in prison, respectively, after being found criminally responsible for the crash at Once train station on 22nd February 2012. Sergio Claudio Cirigliano, the head of the contracting firm Trenes de Buenos Aires (TBA) that operated the train line, received nine years.
De Vido was not among the accused in that trial, but the judges’ full sentence ordered that his role be investigated. Judge Bonadio took up the case and today affirmed that the former minister did not properly control the functioning of the rail network.
“There are multiple elements that reveal that De Vido had knowledge of the deficient service operated by TBA under his remit,” reads the judge’s charges. Bonadio said that a study in 2007 had revealed the state of the service on the Sarmiento line where the train crash occurred, and that the state had rescinded the contracts of two other train operating firms for similar deficiencies. He also claimed that De Vido knew about the poor state of the trains in use, and did not control the application of state funds by TBA.
“During the accused’s mandate, there was a public policy that, due to deficient controls, encouraged contractors to fail to comply with their contractual obligations… yet more and more funds were transferred to them anyway as subsidies.”
De Vido denies responsibility, claiming in a written statement submitted to the court that he had no knowledge of deficiencies in the way the trains were being operated. “My role as minister was to plan government actions in the extensive orbit of the Federal Planning Ministry, not to execute, manage, or control particular policies in each area,” said De Vido.
Families of the victims welcomed today’s news as a step forward in the search for justice. “The prosecution of De Vido was something we’ve been waiting for a long time, because we understand that either through action or omission, he is responsible,” Paolo Menghini, whose son Lucas was killed in the crash, told Télam.