The Railway Tragedy "Hitrino": After 5 years there are No Sentences
5 years after the explosion in Hitrino, the village has been completely restored. The houses are new, but the souls are empty, say the locals. People admit that they still live in fear, and the relatives of the victims continue to live with nightmarish memories. How the incident turned dozens of lives and will they receive justice - says Michaela Karabelova.
The day is December 10, 2016, shortly after 05.00 a.m. A train derailed in the center of Hitrino. 7 people died and 29 were injured. Apart from the house, the explosion swept away the whole world of Shenai Ahmedova. She leaves her husband and young son under the ruins of the derailed composition.
"Nothing is left of our house. Everything fell on us. It was hell. Everything was on fire," the woman said.
With the help of the state, Shenai gets a new home. "They built the house, but it's not like before. There is no joy inside," the woman said.
There is pain inside, says Shenai. Pain that wakes up every day from the signal of another passing train.
"I get goosebumps every time. I keep thinking about the incident. This is a great trauma," she explained.
Derailed tanks take the life of Sherafeddin-Mehmed's wife. The explosion swept the oven in which his wife worked.
"My wife was burned alive. There is no one to bring her back to me. After her death, I had a heart attack. There is no one waiting for me in the evening after work", the man shared.
Stefan Stefanov is the man who rescued the living and the dead after the explosion.
"I personally pulled out three dead people. One of the workers, who was also my friend, was disfigured. Life after such a thing is very difficult. I have been suffering from cancer for two years", the man says.
Many of the people living in the village fell ill after the tragedy.
"The village has been restored, but people's health is not. There are 6 houses here, in 4 there are two cancer patients. Nobody pays attention to these facts. There are people who died of cancer. There are not in this life anymore, and maybe I will follow them", says Stefan.
Hitrino is restored, but only materially. More than BGN 7 million have been spent transparently and fairly, claims Mayor Nouridin Ismail.
"We have repaired the damage 100%. My conscience is clear," he said.
Ismail has been the permanent mayor of Hitrino for 18 years. During this time he was supported by DPS, GERB and DOST. The last elections in the municipality won "Democratic Bulgaria".
"There were people who said that these funds were spent opaquely and unaccountably. I can tell you that we have spent everything from the allocated money", the mayor of the village is categorical.
"In 5 years it has not been clear who is to blame. There are cameras in the area. I received a complaint from the train drivers' lawyers that they were not guilty," said Nikolay Tsachev.
"More than 30 cases of non-pecuniary damage have been filed. Claims for about BGN 6 million with the accrued interest have been filed,” explained Nikolai Dimitrov, a lawyer.
The two drivers were blamed from the state accusation for the death of 7 people and the devastation of an entire village. The court in Shumen and Varna sentenced Radoslav Petkov and Dimitar Mihnev to 10 and 15 years in prison.
The last word of justice is the Supreme Court of Cassation. The drivers and their defenders chose to remain silent until the final decision was made.
"There is a possibility that the case will be returned for a new trial, but it will most likely be the final decision," explained lawyer Petra Svilenova.
The final decision may not await the living victims of Hitrino. Lawyer Lyudmil Rangelov commented on the reasons for the tragic incident in the “Sabudi Se” Nova TV Studio.
"I connected this serious incident with the 1992 railway accident near Kazichene. The perpetrators are being punished at this stage. I am talking about the driver and the assistant driver. There are many other things that also need to be checked. I don't think there will be others punished. If the fasteners were really missing and the ballast prism was loose, this could also cause an accident. This negligence in the technological maintenance of the structure of the railway lines in our country leads to accidents. There are many omissions in this case. It is a matter of reckless guilt. There will hardly be anyone punished for the serious incidents in our country. We usually punish the final person in the chain, who can be linked to the specific incident," Rangelov said.
According to him, it is possible that such a tragedy will happen again.
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