Jury selection complete for Lac-Megantic trial; to start Monday in Sherbrooke, Que


SHERBROOKE, , Que. — Ten men and six women were selected among 300 candidates on Friday to sit as jurors in the trial of three men charged in 2013 Lac-Megantic train derailment.

The 14 jurors will hear the evidence but only 12 will be selected at random to deliberate over the fate of three former railway employees: train driver Thomas Harding, traffic controller Richard Labrie and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre.

All three have pleaded not guilty to one count of criminal negligence causing death.

A total of 47 people died and part of the Quebec town was destroyed when oil laden train cars derailed and caught fire.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday.

Would-be jurors were asked questions in a courtroom in Sherbrooke, Que., about their knowledge of the case, if they had been personally affected by the tragedy and what connections they had to people working in the railway industry.

Several jurors were rejected after they told the court they had made up their minds about whether or not the three accused were guilty and said their opinions were likely not going to change.

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 evidence.

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.

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.

The trial is being held in Sherbrooke, Que,. 150 kilometres east of Montreal.

Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press