Friday, June 2, 2023

ARGENTINA | 22-02-2018 13:07

'Once' crash relatives: "We won’t stop until they’re behind bars"

Several former Fernández de Kirchner government officials were found guilty of manslaughter in 2015, including former Transport secretaries Ricardo Jaime and Juan Pablo Schiavi. A Criminal Appeals Court will decide on the verdicts from April.

Survivors and relatives of the 52 fatal victims of the Once train crash gathered on Thursday to mark six years since one of Argentina’s worst rail tragedies.

“On a morning very similar to this one, here at this station, sirens and screams echoed out. Then came the silence”, María Luján Rey recalled, invoking her 20-year-old son Lucas Menghini Rey whose body was found squashed between carriages three days after the February 22, 2012 crash.

Rey celebrated the “triumphs” of survivors and victims’ relatives but had strong words for the Criminal Appeals Court judges who from April will decide on the 2015 verdicts handed down to a number of former Transport Department officials.

“We won’t stop until they’re behind bars”, she told the Times. “We don’t have a choice, we cannot renounce this fight”.

Rey and her partner Paolo Menghini have become the face of one of the country’s most powerful fights against government corruption. The couple read a statement on behalf of survivors and relatives who will this afternoon meet with President Mauricio Macri.

“When we speak out [about the delays in a final appeal decision], it’s not an attack on the judges but a message to them that we are anxiously waiting for the day in which the corrupt go to jail”, she said.

Several former officials of the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner government were in 2015 found guilty of manslaughter and fraud, including former Transport secretaries Ricardo Jaime and Juan Pablo Schiavi. 


“They told us not to bother, that nothing ever changes in this country. But we didn’t stop”, Menghini said. 

The father of Lucas Menghini alleged that former Planning Minister De Vido continues using his influence to “persecute” survivors and relatives who have “pointed the finger of blame” at the former Kirchner government official. 

Rey described De Vido as Cristina Fernández Kirchner's “untouchable and almighty minister”.

“The corruption in his area of government caused the worst train accident in the last 60 years”, she added, lamenting that De Vido was behind bars “but not because of the 52 innocent victims” of the Once train tragedy. 

Survivors and relatives also had strong words for former Transport Minister and presidential hopeful Florencio Randazzo.

“He now tries to distance himself from his old political bosses, the same man who tried to impose the idea of a rail revolution by carrying out long-overdue reforms over the dead bodies of our loved ones”, the joint statement read.

In November 2017, De Vido was placed in preventive detention at Marcos Paz prison on corruption charges. Of the former Transport Department officials found guilty in 2015, only Ricardo Jaime is behind bars and also on corruption charges.

Survivors and relatives were joined on Thursday by journalist Tato Young, who hosted the commemoration; Mother of Plaza de Mayo-Founding Line Nora Cortiñas; Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj; and Indigenous leader Félix Díaz. 

A number of political figures were also spotted in the crowd including Cambiemos lawmaker Héctor “Toty” Flores and former legislator Vilma Rippoll. 


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Jayson McNamara

Jayson McNamara


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