Lac-Megantic railway executive says 'no comment' on criminal charges
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014 6:02PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 15, 2014 8:08AM EDT
MONTREAL -- The railway chairman who became the target of local anger in Lac-Megantic is declining to discuss criminal charges filed against his company and three of its employees.
Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway boss Ed Burkhardt tells The Canadian Press in an email today he "will have no comment on these events."
The MMA and employees Thomas Harding, Jean Demaitre and Richard Labrie were each charged Tuesday with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death -- one for every victim of last summer's derailment in the Quebec town.
Several locals who watched police march the accused into a Lac-Megantic courtroom said MMA executives, like Burkhardt, should instead be the ones facing justice.
Since it is a company, the railway would face only fines if convicted.
Burkhardt became public enemy No. 1 in the community after a runaway MMA train loaded with volatile crude oil jumped the tracks on July 6 and exploded in the downtown core.
The largest shareholder in the now-insolvent MMA is perhaps best remembered for his tumultuous news conference a few days after the disaster, during which he was heckled by enraged locals.
Burkhardt's blunt public remarks, often lacking sentimentalism, have also made him a source of local frustration.
The president of MMA also told The Canadian Press on Wednesday he has no comment on the criminal charges.
Robert Grindrod said the MMA will be taken over by new owners in the coming days, which means he and Burkhardt will no longer hold titles with the railway.
Ed Burkhardt, Chairman of Montreal Maine & Atlantic Rail and CEO and President of parent company RailWorld talks to reporters at Trudeau Airport on Tuesday July 9, 2013