Sherbrooke Quebec - In their own way, each of the three men accused in the 2013 Lake Megantic train derailment "significantly contributed" to the death of the 47 victims, Crown prosecutors argued Monday morning.
"By the end of the trial, all the evidence presented will convince you beyond a reasonable doubt that Jean Demaitre, Richard Labrie, and Thomas Harding were criminally negligent," Crown prosecutor Veronique Beauchamp said in her opening statement to the jury.
Harding the locomotive engineer, Labrie the traffic controller, and Demaitre manager of train operations, have all pleaded not guilty to one count of criminal negligence causing death.
Their trial began Monday at the Sherbrooke courthouse, more than four years since a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed in downtown Lake Megantic and exploded, killing 47 people and destroying much of the city's core.
Before his opening instructions to the jury, Quebec Superior Court Justice Gaetan Dumas read the charge aloud to the three accused.
The charge alleges that between 4 and 6 Jul 2013, in Farnham, Nantes, Lake Megantic, and "elsewhere in Quebec", the three men caused the death of 47 people by criminal negligence "either due to omissions or because of actions taken during the supervision, operation, or the securitization of the oil train."
Dumas then reminded the jurors that it is the three accused on trial and not the railway company, Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA).
"This is not a royal commission," Dumas said.
The three men are not accused of conspiring together, he added, instructing jurors to consider each accused's personal conduct and analyze the evidence the same way they would if it was three separate trials.
In her 20 minute opening statement, Beauchamp said the Crown will call 36 witnesses to the stand, a mix of civilians, police officers, and one railway expert.
The jury will also hear audio recordings of the company's communication the night of the derailment and learn of the laws and bylaws that regulate the railway industry in Canada.
The first witness, Surete du Quebec crime scene investigator Steven Montembeault, since retired, showed jurors an aerial video he took of the damage in the evening of 6 Jul 2013 when Lake Megantic's downtown core was still smouldering.