Monday, May 23

Explosion of the rue de Trévise: where is the investigation, three years to the day after the tragedy?

Three years to the day after the gas explosion on rue de Trévise, in Paris, killing 4, including 2 firefighters, 66 injured and no less than 400 victims, many are impatiently awaiting the trial. The investigation has been closed since December 13.

On that date, the magistrates of the “collective accidents” pole of the Paris judicial court had indeed informed all the parties that their investigation was closed. By March 13, 2022, the prosecution is now required to deliver its indictment, before a final decision by the investigating magistrates on whether or not to hold a trial.

A series of reports and two indictments

The judges based their decision on the conclusions of a panel of four experts, mandated to determine the causes of the incident and any faults committed. The latter submitted two reports: the first at the end of 2019, then a second, considered final, in spring 2020.

In the first report, submitted in December 2019, the latter concluded that a subsidence of the ground, under the sidewalk, in front of the porch of the building located at 6 rue de Trévise, had caused the rupture of a gas pipe, resulting in an accumulation of natural gas causing the explosion. They had identified “shortcomings” of the City’s road service, in particular in the repair of the sidewalk, without incriminating GRDF.

Then, in their final report of May 2020, the experts had again pointed out a “lack of vigilance” on the part of the City of Paris and also questioned the building’s co-ownership manager who would have been slow to repair the leak of a sewage collector that would have affected land subsidence.

At the end of the investigation, only the town hall of Paris and the property manager of the building were therefore indicted and remain indicted for the acts of “involuntary homicides and injuries” and “destruction, degradation or deterioration by the effect of an explosion or fire ”.

Charged in November 2016 to carry out work on the sidewalk, the construction company Fayolle is also singled out by experts, but has only been placed under the intermediate status of assisted witness, less incriminating than that of indicted, while GDRF escaped prosecution.

Towards the relaunch of instruction?

However, the closure of the investigation does not mean that a trial could be held as early as tomorrow. On Wednesday January 26, the investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal must indeed still examine the request for a second opinion, claimed by the Paris municipality and the trustee, but which had been rejected at first instance.

However, if the Court of Appeal reconsiders this decision, the investigation will be relaunched. Conversely, if this second opinion is again rejected on appeal, the holding of a trial in the coming months could become clearer, more probably next year, in 2023.

In the meantime, this second opinion – which would only take “a few months” and which “does not prevent the work on the rue de Trévise, nor the compensation [des victimes] which is very well advanced with the framework agreement “promises the lawyer of the City of Paris, Me Sabrina Goldman – could well be” decisive “before the opening of a trial.

In addition, all the lawyers in this case have an appointment on Wednesday February 16 at the court and will be received by the first vice-president at the judicial court of Paris, Fabrice Vert. Together, they will have to agree in particular on the compensation part of the victims. And this, while the framework compensation agreement was signed this Monday, January 10, two days before the commemorations of the 3 years of the tragedy.

“The framework agreement negotiated between the parties constitutes an unprecedented outlet in terms of collective accidents, involving several players”, moreover greeted the Parisian municipality which underlines that “it is the first time that a local authority s ‘commits in these proportions in the compensation of the damages suffered by the victims ”.

A letter should also be drafted very soon by the associations of victims and the City of Paris and sent to the Prime Minister, “so that a mission of evaluation and audit of the aid and compensation of victims is carried out. and formulates proposals to improve their care ”.

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