Witnesses in Bulgaria Killer Train Trial Exonerate ConductorCrime | October 9, 2009, Friday // 17:07| views
Nine people were charred to death and nine more injured after two cars of the night train going from Sofia to the northeastern town of Kardam burst into flames minutes after midnight on February 29, 2008. Photo by BGNES
Several witnesses in the deadly train blaze trail said Friday they never saw alcohol or other people in the compartment of Georgi Georgiev, the train's conductor during the fatal night.
The trail against Georgiev, and two other defendants – former Deputy Director of the Bulgarian State Railroads BDZ, Georgi Ivanov, and the Chief of the train, Ivanka Georgieva, is being held for the third consecutive day in the northern city of Pleven.
Nine people were charred to death and nine more injured after two cars of the night train going from Sofia to the northeastern town of Kardam burst into flames minutes after midnight on February 29, 2008.
Several passengers, who have been called as witnesses, adamantly rejected earlier accusations coming from the father of one of the victims that Geogiev smelled alcohol that night and had bottles and company with him. The medical expertise ordered by the prosecution revealed in the beginning of the trail that Georgiev had an alcohol blood level of 0,5 - an amount that would not show at first glance but has different consequences on different people, according to the medical expert.
Witnesses also said temperature in the sleeping car where the tragedy occurred and lighting were normal. They described waking up from suffocating to discover the hallway filled with smoke. They began then jumping out of the window because the sleeping car’s doors were locked.
Another witness called to the stand was Ivaylo Andreev, a fire safety instructor for BDZ, who said the employees were instructed in theory but had no practical skills in dealing with fires.
The local firefighter from the town of Cherven Bryag, Lachezar Mihailov, testified on his part that the fire truck arrived in 7 to 8 minutes after the call, but the firefighters could not enter the sleeping car over the lack of equipment and special clothing. They managed to break the door open only in the morning and this when they discovered the dead bodies inside.
In the meantime, in an interview for the TV channel bTV, Georgiev said he felt no guilt over the tragedy as he has been just an employee acting accordingly to the BDZ procedures. He confirmed he and his colleague never had any real fire drills or practice.
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