BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s former federal planning minister Julio De Vido went on trial on Wednesday for alleged malfeasance in connection with a 2012 railway accident that killed 51 people.
De Vido, now a member of Congress, was planning minister from 2003-2015.
One of his former top aides, Jorge Gustavo Simeonoff, is also a defendant in the case, which is being heard by a panel of four federal judges.
On Feb. 22, 2012, a commuter train on the capital’s Sarmiento line slammed through the buffers at Buenos Aires’ busy Once station, leaving 51 people dead and 700 others injured.
Prosecutors say that De Vido was aware of “serious flaws” in the metropolitan railway system and did not take steps to address those deficiencies.
The network was operated by a private firm, Trenes de Buenos Aires, under a government concession, but the tragedy prompted the administration of then-President Cristina Kirchner to assume direct control of all commuter rail lines serving Greater Buenos Aires.
While most of the lines were returned to private management in early 2014, though with much tighter regulation, authorities continued to operate the Sarmiento line.
In December 2015, two former transportation secretaries, Juan Pablo Schiavi and Ricardo Jaime, were sentenced to eight years in prison for contributing to the accident.
De Vido was forced this week to appoint two new defense lawyers after his existing counsel declined to represent him in the Once matter or in several other cases based on corruption allegations.