Total subsidiary ex-boss jailed for deadly French blast
PARIS (AFP) - A French appeals court on Monday sentenced a former boss of a subsidiary of oil giant Total to a year in prison for a 2001 chemical plant blast that killed 31 people.
The court slapped a three-year term - two of them suspended - and a 45,000-euro (S$71,400) fine on former plant chief Serge Biechlin for manslaughter.
Total subsidiary Grande Paroisse, the company he managed, was fined 225,000 euros, the maximum amount, when an appeal court overturned the verdict reached in a 2009 trial in the southwestern city of Toulouse.
The blast which erupted in September 2001 in a storage warehouse packed with 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the AZF chemical fertiliser plant near Toulouse also injured 2,500 people and devastated 30,000 homes. Prosecutors argued in the first trial that negligence of security measures were to blame but the defence said the explosion had been a simple industrial accident.