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Portuguese van driver charged with multiple negligent homicide to leave jail

The young van driver charged with the negligent homicide of 12 passengers near Moulins in France four months ago is to be released from preventive custody, pending trial.

A statement from French public prosecutor Pierre Gagnoud has stressed he is unhappy with the terms of the release as he does not think they are “sufficient to avoid the risk of escape to Portugal or Switzerland”, and he is also doubtful about other aspects.

But for now, it looks like 19-year-old Ricardo Pinheiro could be free within a matter of days.

The terms set out by the French judge of instruction limit Pinheiro to French territory and a specific address and prohibit any contact with other people involved in the case.

Pinheiro’s family have also had to lodge an €11,000 bail surety.

Talking to journalists, prosecutor Gagnoud explained that he has tried without success to appeal the decision because he considers there is an issue of fraud in this case “because we know there was a second vehicle involved, which was (later) found”, and because there is the risk of “pressures being brought to bear on witnesses”.

But while Pinheiro is up for release, his uncle remains in jail, writes Correio da Manhã.

Both men were refused bail in April (click here) after they were charged with causing the death of 12 passengers due to a “conscious failing in the obligation of prudence” on the part of the driver.

CM says Gagnoud “cannot be precise about the date of the trial” but claims “it won’t happen before the end of 2017, and possibly even later”.

The accident that happened just before Easter killed Portuguese emigrés living and working in Switzerland, among them a seven-year-old and a teenager.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com