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QM2 shipyard boss denies all charges

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-03-24

The former CEO of the French shipyards blamed for a deadly 2003 accident involving the cruise ship Queen Mary 2 has refuted each of the charges levelled against his company, the Saint-Nazaire shipyards Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique, a court heard.

The former CEO of the French shipyards blamed for a deadly 2003 accident involving the cruise ship Queen Mary 2 said that his company was not responsible for the accident in a French court on Monday.

In his appearance as a witness in an appeals trial, Patrick Boissier refuted each of the charges levelled against his formeer company, the Saint-Nazaire shipyards Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique, blamed for the collapse of a walkway that left 16 dead and 29 wounded.

The Queen Mary 2 - the world's largest liner at the time of its construction - was in dry dock at the time. The collapse sent 45 people plunging 18 metres (60 feet) to the ground.

The court criticized the shipyards, citing “a number of deficiencies”, including security failures and faults in the organisation.

Boissier, who left the shipyards two years ago, justified his position by arguing that the complexity of the company required delegating many responsibilities.

He argued that Endel, a Suez group company that had built the walkway, was one of their most reliable subcontractors. “We had confidence in them,” he said, explaining the lack of quality control on the walkway after it had been delivered.

"It was not the presence of the visitors that day that caused the accident, but a fault in the design of the bridge," he insisted.

Asked if a further scrutiny of the specifications sent by Endel could have detected the defect, Boissier replied in the negative.

"In a yard, there are always unforeseen things that create stress. But I don’t think that in this case we acted in haste," he said.

"Each of us feels morally responsible for this accident. But the decisions we took seemed the right ones when we took them," he added.

At the beginning of his hearing, Boissier addressed the families of the victims. "I wish to reiterate the compassion and respect I have for them [the victims]. I hope that this trial will bring them the peace to which they are entitled," he said.

Date created : 2009-03-23

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