Almost three years after the devastating gas explosion in the capital rue de Trévise (9e arrondissement), January 12, 2019 – one of the most serious accidents of this type ever to have occurred in the capital, with 4 dead, 66 injured and hundreds of victims – the magistrates of the Paris judicial court in charge of the case are on the verge of to complete their instruction. This is what they announced, Wednesday, November 24, to the civil parties gathered for a day at the courthouse in Paris. The different parties still have a fortnight to request additional acts, then the file will, in principle, be sent to the prosecutor so that he can establish his requisitions.
At this stage, the conviction of the magistrates seems established. Based on the various expert reports, the last of which was entered in the file at the beginning of the week, two persons responsible for the disaster are clearly designated: the City of Paris and the property manager of the building located at 6, rue of Treviso, the one where the explosion occurred. Indicted in September 2020 in particular for « involuntary homicides and injuries », the City and the trustee should logically be referred to the criminal court. The responsibility of the gas distributor GRDF, a subsidiary of Engie, is for the moment excluded. As well as that of the Fayolle works company, placed under the intermediary status of assisted witness.
« The noose is tightening on the City and the trustee », confirm several participants at Wednesday’s meeting. The City of Paris, however, vehemently rejects the accusations and intends to defend itself. « The judges take up the conclusions of the experts, which we fundamentally contest », explains Sabrina Goldman, lawyer for the Town Hall. The first request for a second opinion having been refused, the City appealed, and hopes that the chamber of instruction will accept, within a few months, that a new group of experts examine the file. The more so as the expertises carried out in the civil framework, and not penal, lead to different results. The trustee, for his part, filed a request to annul the criminal expertise.
A water leak at the origin of the tragedy
According to the scenario retained by the experts and the investigating magistrates, the primary origin of the accident is to be found in a water leak. The wastewater collector located in the basement of 6, rue de Trévise leaked for two years, from 2015 to 2017, and the condominium was slow to react. When she finally had the repairs carried out, all the cubic meters of water spilled had transformed the soil, « unpacked » the land, and resulted in the sidewalk in front of the building, on the public domain, sagging. It was then that the City intervened. On five occasions, his agents repaired the sidewalk, without understanding the root cause of this disorder or resolving it definitively. However, according to experts, the collapse of the sidewalk has damaged the gas pipeline that was there. It ended up breaking on January 12, 2019, about two hours before any spark caused the explosion, and devastated an entire neighborhood. It was 8:59 a.m.
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