Five defendants stand in a courtroom in the southern province of Dong Nai. They were later sentenced to prison for causing a train-cars collision that killed 2 and injured 22 in 2011. Photo: Le Lam
Five people were sentenced to prison in Vietnam Friday for their roles in a fatal collision between a train and six cars on a bridge in 2011.
Four of them were employees of state-owned Sai Gon Railways and the other a taxi driver at the time of the collision, which killed two and injured 22 others on Ghenh Bridge in Dong Nai Province on Feb. 6, 2011.
The Saigon Railways employees were sentenced to between three years and five and half years for dereliction of duty.
Taxi driver Tran Minh Chau, 55, received a jail term of seven years for charges of "obstructing rail traffic".
According to the indictment, the railway workers -- namely Tran Van Thoi, 31, Nguyen Van Luong, 58, Bui Van Thuan, 44, and Tran Viet Hai, 24 -- were in charge of regulating traffic on Ghenh Bridge, which handles both road and rail tracks.
On the day of the crash, however, they failed to prevent the cars from driving on the bridge even though the northbound train frantically signaled to them.
Six cars, including Chau's taxi, that had entered the bridge despite the railway staff's warning, were stuck on the bridge when the train approached.
In an attempt to clear the traffic congestion, Thuan asked Chau, who was near the end of the line of cars, to move.
However, the taxi driver refused and argued with the railway worker, instead.
By the time he moved, the train arrived and smashed into the other cars.
Police initially sought charges against the train's driver and his deputy for entering the bridge despite the absence of signals from the railway workers saying that the traffic was clear.
Another railway worker was also accused of ignoring his duty by failing to fix broken signal lights.
However, prosecutors later dropped charges against them.