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Mont Blanc verdicts

The question

A French court has found 10 people and three firms guilty of manslaughter for their roles in the 1999 Mont Blanc tunnel fire that killed 39 people. One tunnel official was jailed and others had suspended sentences and fines imposed What do you think of this?

The decision to impose custodial sentences on individuals gives an unequivocal message to those with ultimate responsibility for the safety of the public. It will have a long term beneficial impact on safety - unfortunately this will be of little consolation to the relatives of the victims.

Charles Brewerton, project engineer, Brighton As professional engineers we are all responsible for health and safety issues. Time and again we say that we want to be held in high esteem for our work, basking in the limelight when things go well. It follows then that if we want to reap the acclaim for our successes we must also fall by the same sword for our failures. In this particular case people died and the guilty have been punished. Is that not the whole basis of the judicial system?

Howard Hutchinson, 35, contracts manager, Dorset One can only assume that those found guilty had been fully trained and knowingly flaunted health and safety regulations - and even though there was no direct intent, malice or forethought, unlawful killing took place.

George Miezitis, 54, operations team leader, Fife The verdict was not enough for crimes against humanity. I do not know who decided the case but it sounds like industry protecting its own.

Andrew Worby, 56, civil engineer/solicitor, Bath The sentences appear to be a fair reflection of the responsibilities of the people involved. In view of the tragedy that caused so many deaths I can only hope that it serves as a warning to other tunnel operating companies to give the safety of those using the tunnels the highest priority.

Mike Paul, 52, senior engineer, Stuttgart This ruling is over the top and unfair. Doctors make mistakes daily but we do not see them being charged or taken to the court. Why should civil engineers should be treated differently?

We are all humans and we all do make mistakes sometimes.

Chrysostomos Loizou, 29, civil engineer, London As we have seen at Hatfield and Zeebrugge, British courts take a rather different view of corporate manslaughter, and rightly so.

Although highly regrettable, the death of innocent travellers using any form of public transport should not form the basis of manslaughter charges. Surely the correct avenue of redress is via the copious safety legislation now on the statute books, breaches of which should result in appropriate penalties.

Bill Addington, 49, geotechnical consultant, Kuala Lumpur It is appropriate that those directly responsible for the safety of the tunnel and its users have been forced to face those responsibilities. Even though most sentences were suspended, the victims' families are generally pleased that guilt has been proven. It is said justice has to be seen to be done; this seems to be the case here.

Luc Koefman, 34, windfarm engineer, France

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