The District Court in the Bulgarian town of Shoumen has handed prison sentences to the driver and assistant driver of the train that crashed in the village of Hitrino in December 2016, leaving seven people dead and many injured in a massive gas explosion.
The court sentenced train driver Dimitar Mihnev to 15 years in prison and banned him from being employed as a train driver for 17 years.
Assistant train driver Radoslav Petkov was sentenced to 10 years in prison and banned him from being employed as a train driver for 12 years.
The court found that the accident in Hitrino had been caused by the train, made up of two locomotives and 26 tank wagons, travelling at high speed when entering the railway station.
Apart from the deaths and injuries, dozens of houses, the municipal headquarters, the railway station buildings were either destroyed or seriously damaged.
The indictment in the case ran to 73 pages, with documentation from the pre-trial proceedings adding up to 40 volumes. Ninety witnesses were questioned in the investigation and 56 experts appointed to assist in the investigation into the accident, the Prosecutor’s Office said. Four DNA tests were assigned to identify the dead.
The verdict of the Shoumen District Court is subject to appeal in the Court of Appeal in Varna.