Sherbrooke Quebec - Three months after it began, the trial of three railway employees charged in the 2013 Lake Megantic train derailment is to begin winding down this week, with closing arguments due to start on Wednesday.
Train driver Thomas Harding, traffic controller Richard Labrie, and manager of train operations Jean Demaitre, each face one count of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people.
The three men were charged after an unattended train carrying crude oil barrelled into Lake Megantic on 6 Jul 2013 killing 47 people and destroying the town's core.
Their employer, the since-bankrupt Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), will stand trial at a later date.
In her opening statement in October, Crown prosecutor Veronique Beauchamp told jurors that had it not been for the "negligent actions and omissions" of the three accused, the 47 victims would not have died.
The Crown contends Demaitre, the supervisor on duty that night, failed to do anything about mechanical issues on the train's lead locomotive signalled the day before the derailment, and mishandled the response when a fire started in one of the train's locomotives that night.
Harding, the Crown argues, applied a "clearly insufficient" number of handbrakes on the train before leaving it parked 10 kilometres uphill from Lake Megantic for the night.
Labrie, for his part, never asked Harding if he had applied enough handbrakes, the Crown said, even though he was the rail traffic conductor working that night and spoke to Harding before the derailment.
Lawyers representing the three men did not call any witnesses for the defence.
Thomas Walsh, a lawyer for Harding, said in an interview Tuesday he decided not to call witnesses after examining the Crown's evidence, adding he feels it is "far from being sufficient."
In a general sense, Walsh said, "that's what we're going to be arguing to the jury."
The trial started at the Sherbrooke courthouse in early October.
It was last in court on 12 Dec 2017 when Quebec Superior Court Justice Gaetan Dumas sent jurors home to ensure they wouldn't be sequestered during the holidays or rush to a verdict.
Closing arguments are expected to last until Friday.
They are to be followed by Dumas's instructions to the jury, after which jurors will be sequestered to deliberate.
The maximum sentence for a charge of criminal negligence causing death is life imprisonment.