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Argentina: Former planning minister sentenced in rail crash

October 10, 2018
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FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2012 file photo, police officers stand in front of a derailed commuter train at the downtown Retiro station in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A court in Argentina has sentenced on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, the former planning minister Julio De Vido for his role in the 2012 train accident that left more than 50 people dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Eduardo Di Baia,File)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A court convicted a former Argentine federal planning minister Wednesday of contributing to a deadly 2012 train crash by failing to oversee the operations of commuter railways.

Julio De Vido was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison for defrauding the public administration. The court also banned him from ever again holding a state job.

De Vido is already serving time in prison on a corruption case. He was a key official during the administrations of former President Cristina Fernandez and her late husband and predecessor Nestor Kirchner. The couple governed Argentina in 2003-2015.

The latest conviction involved a packed morning commuter train that smashed into a platform at the busy Once station in Buenos Aires on Feb. 22, 2012. More than fifty people died and about 700 were injured in Argentina’s deadliest train accident in decades.

Argentina’s independent auditor general later delivered a blistering report on the causes of the crash, suggesting that the problems are systemic, due to many years of mismanagement, corruption and disrepair.

Two former transportation secretaries were convicted to prison sentences in 2015. The Federal Criminal Court convicted Juan Pablo Schiavi to eight years for defrauding the public administration and involuntary manslaughter because of the high number of deaths. Ricardo Jaime got six years for a defrauding charge.

The train operator and other several officials from the company that oversaw the train line were given sentences ranging from three to nine years.

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