Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Which world order? Trump, Macron spell out rival visions at U.N.

Read more

ENCORE!

Debra Granik: 'There aren't many women who love making films about blood and gore'

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Medical breakthrough? Researchers find way to tackle Alzheimer's

Read more

FOCUS

Jihadists, but no terror attacks: The case of Italy

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

A controversial pastor in Haiti, pollution in Casablanca, and more

Read more

PERSPECTIVE

Photojournalist Reza: 'Children are now the best photographers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Instagram founders quit photo app

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Tanzania investigates ferry disaster which killed at least 227

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential parody: The unofficial Elysée shop

Read more

Europe

Sixteen years on, Total subsidiary found liable in deadly AZF plant blast

© Eric Cabanis, AFP | This file photograph taken on September 30, 2001, shows personnel walking in the wreckage of the AZF petrochemical plant in Toulouse, some 10 days after the deadly explosion.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-10-31

A French court on Tuesday found a subsidiary of oil giant Total partly responsible for a huge explosion at a fertiliser factory in the city of Toulouse in 2001 that claimed 31 lives.

Grande Paroisse, a Total subsidiary specialising in chemicals, was found guilty of negligence and serious misconduct over the disaster, which struck on September 21, 2001, 10 days after the September 11 attacks in the US.

The plant was completely levelled by the blast, and the company was fined 225,000 euros ($260,000).

The plant's former manager Serge Biechlin was also convicted over the tragedy, which left 8,000 injured and caused widespread damage.

Biechlin, 72, was given a 15-month suspended sentence and a fine of 10,000 euros for manslaughter.

Both defendants announced plans to appeal the outcome of the third case in 16 years over the explosion, which scattered debris over several kilometres, injuring people far from the site.

The prosecution and lawyers for 2,700 civil plaintiffs argued that the blast was an accident linked to poor waste management at the factory.

Several reports suggested that workers at the site made a mistake when mixing chemicals.

The defendants had mooted other possible causes such as a terror attack or the presence of chemical deposits in the ground.

Biechlin and Grande Paroisse, which is now known as GPN, were cleared of responsibility at a first trial in 2009.

That finding was overturned on appeal in 2012 but the appeals court's guilty verdict was in turn struck down over concerns about the impartiality of one of the magistrates, leading to a re-trial.

Total says it has paid out 2.5 billion euros to the victims in compensation but has repeatedly denied any criminal responsibility.

(AFP)

Date created : 2017-10-31

  • FRANCE

    Former Total unit boss sentenced for deadly blast

    Read more

  • France

    Total subsidiary on trial again for 2001 chemical blast

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Prosecutors to appeal chemical plant explosion acquittal

    Read more

COMMENT(S)