The 19-year-old driver and owner of the minibus involved in an accident that killed 12 Portuguese emigrés in France last week have been formally charged with negligent homicide, reports AFP this morning.
Ricardo Pinheiro and his uncle Arménio Pinto have been in preventive custody since the tragedy (click here) that has raised a number of questions.
One of the most important facts which authorities seek to establish is how the six-seater Mercedes Sprinter had been ‘adapted’ to take more than double the number of passengers.
Reports have already suggested that the adaption was ‘unregulated’ but it is not clear in what conditions the passengers – including a seven-year-old child and a teenager – were travelling.
Shots of the wreckage show a ‘closed van’ with no side windows.
National tabloid Correio da Manhã claims Pinheiro and his uncle are being represented by two lawyers – one French and one Portuguese.
The latter, Álvaro Dias, has travelled from Pinheiro’s own home borough of Aguiar da Beira as a “matter of conscience”, says the paper – adding that he has been contacted by a number of relatives of the victims who also have links to the accused men, and has “refused to charge any fees”.
Giving Dias time to confer with his clients, a French judge has extended their detention in police custody until Monday.