On July 3, 2006, the most serious metro accident that has ever taken place in Europe took place in Valencia, an accident that caused the death of 43 people and injured another 47. On January 27, 2020, thirteen and a half years later, the head of the Criminal Court number 6 of Valencia sentenced four former directors of Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat Valenciana (FGV) – the company that manages the metro.
These are Juan José Gimeno Barberá, Vicente Antonio Contreras, Francisco García Sigüenza and Sebastián Argente, who pleaded guilty to a crime against the rights of workers in an ideal contest with 43 crimes of homicide due to serious professional negligence and 36 crimes of injuries as well. for serious professional recklessness. On the contrary, it acquitted the former manager of the public company Marisa Gracia and the other directors Manuel Sansano, Luis Miguel Domingo Alepuz, Salvador Orts Pardo and the FGV itself.
This Saturday marks the fifteenth anniversary of that event. “It is a date to remember,” says Rosa Garrote, the last president of the AVM3J victims’ association who staged its last rally in the Plaza de la Virgen de València on March 3 of last year, 4,992 days after the accident and barely a few weeks after the court ruling was known. On this occasion, the event is faced, as he says, “with a different spirit, calmer, more serene, after leaving behind our role of protest and struggle in search of justice.”
In the trial, the directors of Ferrocarrils recognized their responsibility, “that it was in their power to have corrected the deficiencies that existed on the line.” “Something that for us is very significant, since it highlights the role of society and gives us the reason in what we have been demanding,” explains Garrote. “The accident took place because of the bad decisions of some managers, not because of the driver’s fault,” he insists, adding: “It didn’t help us to hold the driver responsible and the justice proved us right.
The next of kin and the victims are “completely satisfied” with the judicial decision, “which is unquestionable, because in addition the directors recognized their responsibility, which is right for us.”
The fight has stopped
They face this fifteenth anniversary in a more serene and calm way: “The fight has stopped thanks to a sentence that has allowed us to turn the page and close wounds.” As Garrote explains, it was necessary to close the duel phase. “While we were fighting that was impossible. Now the wound is beginning to heal and we can assume our losses once we have finished with the duel,” says the former AVM3J spokesperson, who recalls the enormous psychological burden that all those years of struggle entailed. .
“Now, each one of us carries personal pain, but it is important that the accident is not forgotten, that bad public management does not fall into oblivion [una comisión parlamentaria en las Corts concluyó que hubo responsabilidades políticas por parte del Gobierno autonómico del popular Francisco Camps] so that something like this never happens again, “concludes Garrote.