Sherbrooke, QC – A half-dozen people have so far been selected to sit as jurors for the criminal case of the 2013 Lac-Megantic train derailment that killed 47 people and destroyed part of the town.
Six bilingual jurors – four men and two women – have been plucked from some of the 300 candidates present today at the courthouse in Sherbrooke, Que.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Gaetan Dumas told prospective jurors they would be required to dole out justice impartially and “without fear” if they were chosen.
Dumas also told them they must be patient and have an open mind while listening to the whole of the evidence.
Three former railway employees – train driver Thomas Harding, traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre – each face one charge of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people.
Prospective jurors have been asked a series of questions about whether they were personally affected by the tragedy and whether they have any links to people working in the rail industry.
Thomas Walsh, one of the defence lawyers, said he expected the 14-member jury to be formed by Friday afternoon, with a trial beginning Monday.
The Crown has signalled it will call 24 civilian and 11 police witnesses, and one expert witness in a trial that is expected to last until December.
All three accused have pleaded not guilty.
The bankrupt former railway company Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway has also pleaded not guilty to causing the deaths of 47 people and will face a separate trial at a later date.
Between 800 and 1,200 prospective jurors were called to court in the initial days of jury selection.
Those who were deemed sufficiently bilingual and who didn’t know any of the 47 people who died in 2013 were invited to court today for the final selection.
“It was a major event in this area,” said Walsh. “So you can imagine a lot of people knew someone (who died) or who was affected.”
The trial is being held in Sherbrooke, Que,. 150 kilometres east of Montreal.