June 25, 2018
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Jury finds rail workers were not at fault in explosion that killed 47 near Maine border

Ryan Remiorz | AP
Ryan Remiorz | AP
Train driver Thomas Harding leaves the courtroom with his lawyers Charles Shearson, left, and Tom Walsh, rear, after being found not guilty on the ninth day of deliberations, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. One of the most closely watched Canadian trials in recent years ended Friday with the acquittal of three former railway employees who were charged with criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people in the Lac-Megantic tragedy.

Updated:

Canadian jurors acquitted three railroad workers formerly employed by the defunct Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway of criminal negligence charges related to the 2013 Lac-Megantic explosion that killed 47 people near the Maine border, according to CBC News.

[Three people, rail company face charges in Lac-Megantic disaster]

The jury delivered the verdict on Friday, after deliberating for nine days in a Sherbrooke, Quebec, courtroom.

The decision means that locomotive engineer Tom Harding, 56, rail traffic controller Richard Labrie, 59, and operations manager Jean Demaître, 53, are not guilty of charges that they acted negligently to help cause the derailment of a fuel train on July 6, 2013. The derailed train careened out of control, causing several tankers loaded with crude oil to explode, setting off a deadly inferno that destroyed much of the village of Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

[Rangeley fire chief tells Senate subcommittee people ‘vaporized’ in Quebec rail disaster]

“I would like to say the people of Lac-Mégantic, what they went through, they showed a huge amount of courage,” Labrie said to CBC News.

The trial began in late September. Eight men and four women served on the jury.

Two other cases related to the rail disaster are unlikely to proceed in Canadian federal courts, according to CBC News.

The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway was purchased out of bankruptcy and now operates as the Central Maine and Quebec Railway.

Lac-Megantic Mayor Julie Morin, who was not mayor at the time of the explosion, expressed relief about the verdict.

“The company, MMA, had a big role to play in this,” said Morin to CBC News. “It’s impossible that three men alone created what happened to us.”

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