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Court finds three guilty in cable car accident

The Riederalp cable car, following the accident in December 1996 (damaged main pulley shown bottom right)


A court in canton Valais has found three out of five defendants guilty of involuntary manslaughter and causing serious injury through negligence for the death of one person and the injury of 18 others in a cable car accident.

In 1996, the gondolas they were travelling in above the resort of Riederalp plummeted to the ground after the cables they were attached to slackened and slipped off the pulleys.

The circuit court in Upper Valais handed down a ten day suspended sentence and a SFr1,000 fine to an engineer from the company that manufactured the cable car. A co-worker and an official from the federal office for transport were fined SFr1,000 and SFr1,500 respectively.

The prosecution had demanded heavier penalties for the two engineers.

A senior technician working for the cable car company in Riederalp and the boss of the transport official were found not guilty.

An investigation found that a tear in the axle of a main pulley caused the accident. Experts concluded that the engineers installed an axle whose diameter was too small for the pulley.

swissinfo with agencies

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