The People’s Court of Biên Hòa City yesterday opened a criminal trial against two people for charges related to the collapse of the Ghềnh Railway Bridge in southern Đồng Nai Province, but quickly closed the court to allow time to collect more information about the case.– Photo sggp.org.vn
ĐỒNG NAI – The People’s Court of Biên Hòa City yesterday opened a criminal trial against two people for charges related to the collapse of the Ghềnh Railway Bridge in southern Đồng Nai Province, but quickly closed the court to allow time to collect more information about the case.
In March last year, a barge rammed into the railway bridge, which was the main rail link between the south and north of the country.
The accused are Phan Thế Thượng, aged 63, from Sóc Trăng Province and Trần Văn Giang, age 36, residing in Bạc Liêu Province. Thượng is charged with using out-of-date waterway vehicles and assigning unqualified staff to control waterway vehicles. Giang is being prosecuted for violating regulations on waterway traffic.
In December 2016, Thượng, the owner of a towboat, hired Giang and Nguyễn Văn Lẹ, age 28 from Sóc Trăng Province, to drive the towboat and a barge owned by his wife from Bình Dương province to Đồng Nai province on the Đồng Nai River.
According to Biên Hòa city’s Procuracy’s indictment, Thượng’s boat’s technical and environment safety certificates expired in December 2015.
Thượng hired Giang and Lẹ despite knowing that Giang did not have a captain’s licence and Lẹ did not have a driving licence.
On December 19, 2016, Thượng asked Giang to drive the barge, carrying a load of sand, to Đồng Nai Province, but the number of staff on board at that moment failed to meet regulations.
At noon the next day, as Giang was trying to maneuver the towboat and barge upstream, the boat broke down near Ghềnh Bridge. The barge drifted away and crashed into the bridge’s pillar. The bridge collapsed and the barge and boat capsized.
Lẹ has not been charged as he merely played a supporting role and has been deemed not culpable for the accident.
According to the indictment, the total losses from the bridge’s collapse were nearly VNĐ21.8 billion (US$960,000).
The Việt Nam Railway Corporation, which suffered major losses, asked for compensation of more than VNĐ8.9 billion (US$390,000).
However, Trần Hải Đức, Thượng’s lawyer, told the court yesterday that he visited the Ghềnh Bridge a day prior to the trial to check the bridge, reported the online newspaper dantri.com.vn. He said the new Ghềnh Bridge has anti-blow-beding pillars, designed to protect the main pillars from crashes. At the moment the barge crashed into the old bridge, it lacked such pillars.
The lawyer argued that the lack of pillars led to collapse of the bridge. He asked the court to define the responsibilities of the bridge management agency.
Moreover, the lawyer also said that the evaluation of property losses was not clear, constraining the ability to define criminal responsibility and determine civil compensation.
Thus, he asked the judge to cancel the court for more investigation.
The court agreed with the lawyer’s proposal to return files to the Biên Hòa City’s procuracy for further investigation. The court had been scheduled to last for two days and issue a verdict at its conclusion, but will now be delayed until the additional investigation is completed.
The Ghềnh Bridge, linking two banks of Đồng Nai River, was built by the colonial French administration early in the 20th century. — VNS