Cameroonian rail operator Camrail and eleven other defendants were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in connection with a train derailment that killed 79 people and wounded more than 600 in October 2016.
The packed train operated by Camrail, a unit of French industrial group Bollore, detailed in Eseka en route from Yaounde to the port city Douala .
Eseka district judge Marcel Ndigui Ndigui ruled Camrail and 11 of 14 individual defendants were guilty of “dangerous activities and involuntary manslaughter”.
Camrail former chief executive Didier Vandenbon was among those convicted. He was sentenced to six months in prison, while others received prison terms of between three and five months. Three defendants were found not guilty.
Me Massi Ngakele, a lawyer for one victim, welcomed the ruling. “It’s a historic day after a time of tears. Now is the time to hope.”
Bollore declined immediate comment.
The trial comes after a government inquiry last year found Camrail was mainly to blame for the derailment as the train was going at more than twice the speed limit, was overloaded and had defective brakes.