Erasmus bus massacre in Spain, the driver dies. Process closed

Seven years after the massacre in which 13 Erasmus students died, seven of whom were Italian, Santiago Rodriguez Jimenez died of a heart attack, the driver of the bus that on 20 March 2016 ended up off the road in Freginals in Spain. The 70-year-old man was the only defendant for that massacre and his death closes the criminal trial. Inadequate driving had emerged from the testimonies and technical analyses: the driver had not respected the rest periods and decided to continue driving despite the tiredness.

The victims of the accident

“So our judicial history ends. No verdict will be issued because the criminal responsibility is personal”, the parents of the victims write in a letter entrusted to the lawyer Maria Cleme Bartesaghi. Among the girls who died in the accident was also the Genoese Francesca Bonello, who was studying medicine at the time. And then the Serena Saracino from Turin, the Tuscans Valentina Gallo, Elena Maestrini, Lucrezia Borghi, the Friulian Elisa Valent, and the Viterbo Elisa Scarascia Mugnozza. With them, two German girls, one Romanian, one from Uzbekistan, one French and one Austrian. All between 19 and 25 years old.

Relatives of the young victims: “This affair has taken away too much from us”

Last autumn, the driver had reached a sort of plea agreement, according to Spanish law, namely a sentence reduction for the admission of responsibility, but the decision had not yet been put on paper by the judge. “This affair has taken away too much from us, but our dignity has remained: for years we have refused to undergo a process that did not want to leave. We have lost faith in a country – conclude the relatives of the seven girls – where the The exercise of justice depends on the capacity and number of courtrooms or on the union claims, albeit legitimate, of a secretary.A state in which compensation for victims of road accidents is worth less than that for other accidents, so as not to weigh on the insurance companies.So, better get out as soon as possible, not to suffer anymore. This wasn’t possible either. We only have the news that the driver would have negotiated: it’s our only non-sentence”.

Investigations and judicial proceedings

The Spanish judiciary had tried three times to file the affair as a car accident due to fatality, the families and their lawyers had opposed. The Spanish authorities had reopened the investigation and acknowledged responsibility for the imprudent homicide massacre. Inadequate driving had emerged from the stories of the survivors, both from the technical analysis of the chrono-tachograph which detected up to 77 decelerations, i.e. falling asleep. The driver hadn’t respected the rest periods and decided to continue the journey despite the accumulated tiredness. A seven-year wait that is now ending without justice.