The judge gives his instructions to the jury at the trial of Lac-Mégantic

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Archives The Duty
July 6, 2013, a train full of crude oil is set in motion all alone and roared down the slope leading to Lac-Mégantic before exploding.

At the trial of the train derailment of Lac-Mégantic, the judge Gaetan Dumas started on Wednesday morning to give his instructions to the jurors, warning them that they must make a verdict without sympathy or prejudice against the accused, and without taking into account the public opinion.


The trial is made in this last step, at the courthouse of Sherbrooke.


The jurors will have to decide on the guilt of the three accused, Thomas Harding, Richard Labrie and Jean Demaître.


They all three have pleaded not guilty to the charges of criminal negligence in relation to the tragedy train in Lac-Mégantic, in which 47 people lost their lives on July 6, 2013. In the morning, on a train full of crude oil is set in motion all alone and roared down the slope leading to Lac-Megantic, exploding and razing part of the city centre of this small municipality in the Estrie region.


The judge Dumas, of the superior Court, has undertaken to provide its guidelines — entirely in French and in English — shortly before 11 a.m.


He reminded the jury that it must make its three verdicts based solely on the evidence presented in the courtroom.


Verdicts must also be unanimous, he explained.


The judge Dumas has also insisted on something he considers important : it is not the trial of the rail company Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA), which operated the train, nor that of its leaders.


This is the trial of three men accused of having been careless of individual and independent between 4 and 6 July 2013, has pointed to the magistrate.


He also detailed some of the principles of criminal law : the three defendants are presumed innocent and the Crown has the burden of proof and who must prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


The three accused does not have to demonstrate that they are innocent, explained the judge Dumas.


Richard Labrie was the controller’s railway, Thomas Harding, the train conductor and Jean Demaître was the chief operating officer of the rail company Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA) in Quebec.


They did not testify at trial nor called any witnesses to the bar.


The trial started on October 2 last.