EDP Defense Says Pedrogao Land-Cleaning Plan Expired 5 Years Before Fire
Updated: May 24
“The road of death” in the Pedrogao Grande fire
The two electricity firm employees should be acquitted, argued the lawyer for E-REDES, in closing arguments of the trial to determine possible criminal negligence for the deaths of 63 and the injuries of 44 in the June 2017 fire of Pedrogao Grande, reported Diario Guardiao (May 23).
Defense attorney Miguel Almeida told the Tribunal Court of Leiria on May 23 that “the only fair outcome” is the acquittal of Casimiro Pedro and Jose Geria, who exceeded fuel strip maintenance in the Pedrogao Grande fire within the scope of the law.
In its closing arguments on May 18, the Public Ministry asked for the conviction of 10 of the 11 defendants, reported Jornal de Noticias (May 18).
The prosecution asked for the imprisonment of Casimiro Pedro, an employee of the former EDP Distribuçao (Energias de Portugal), according to Diario de Noticias (May 18). It also asked that the firm’s other employee, Jose Geria, should be “judged according to the evidence produced”.
In the closing arguments of the defense, Miguel Almeida said that the Public Ministry showed “nothing” in relation to the responsibility of his clients in the fire as the prosecution proved none of the assumptions, reported Diario Guardiao (May 23).
“The legal duties are only those that concern the management of the fuel strips,” underscored the lawyer. Despite recognizing that E-REDES has a duty to maintain forest spaces at “a distance of not less than seven meters,” he said that the legislation recognizes the Municipal Plans for the Defense of Forests Against Fires (PMDFCI).
Almeida pointed out that the Municipal Plans for the Defense of Forests Against Fires have a five-year term after which the municipalities are obliged to approve a new one.
“As of June 17, there was no plan approved and in effect. The only plan that existed was approved in 2007, and it expired five years later. They would have had to approve a new plan, but that didn’t happen.”
In addition, Almeida said that the defendant, Casimiro Pedro, ordered new inspections of the electrical network when it would only be necessary to do so in November 2017.
“The degree of diligence goes far beyond what is established by law.”
The E-REDES attorney also said that the Public Ministry was not using “acceptable legal reasoning” in saying that the fire could have been predicted, given the “atypicality and unpredictability of the events that occurred”. He mentioned the atmospheric instability: the strong gusts of wind, the multiplication of secondary outbreaks, and temperatures between 80 and 1300 Centigrade.
3 Hospitals Want Compensation
Two hospitals in Lisbon and one in Coimbra have submitted claims for about 800,000 euros in compensation for the treatment and hospital care of the injured, reported SIC Noticias (May 23). Miguel Almeida said that those costs should be borne by the State, according to Diario Guardiao (May 23).
“Hospital centers that claim compensation must demand these amounts from the Ministry of Health,” explained the lawyer, taking into account that, following the fires, the State created a set of support measures, among which it determined that victims are entitled to free hospital follow-up treatment.
Pedrogao Grande Fire Chief
The Pedrogao Grande Fire Brigade asked for the presence of the country’s fire commanders at the court session on May 31 in which the attorney for the commander of Pedrogao Grande will deliver the closing arguments, reported CM TV (May 20).
The appeal came in a letter that the Humanitarian Association of Voluntary Firefighters of Pedrogao Grande sent on May 20 to the Associations, Federations and League of Portuguese Firefighters, two days after the Public Ministry asked for a prison sentence of more than five years for the commander of the Volunteer Firefighters of Pedrogao Grande, Augusto Arnaut.