The number of defendants in the investigation that investigates the June 2017 fires in Pedrógão Grande, north of the district of Leiria, which caused 66 deaths, has increased to 18, the Leiria District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

According to the same information, “in this investigation, conducted by the Public Prosecutor of the Department of Investigation and Criminal Action of Leiria , are facts that can be included in negligent homicide and negligence crimes.”

The Leiria District Attorney’s Office added that “the investigation is in an advanced stage, and numerous enquiries have already been carried out, especially of an expert nature, and more than two hundred witnesses have been heard.”

In this investigation, the Public Prosecution Service is assisted by the Judiciary Police.

Among the 18 defendants in this investigation are councilors and ex-mayoral officials, municipal officials, members of Civil Protection and workers from private companies.

Pedrógão Grande Volunteer Fire Chief António Arnaut and Mário Cerol, 2nd district operational commander, were among the first people to be accused in December 2017.

Also in the scope of Civil Protection, Sérgio Gomes, who when the fires occurred was a district operational commander and is now deputy of National Operations at the National Civil Protection Authority, is also accused.

Others accused are the mayor of Figueiró dos Vinhos, Jorge Abreu, the former mayor of Castanheira de Pera, Fernando Lopes and the former councillor of the Municipality of Pedrógão Grande, José Graça.

In the private sector regarding companies, Ascendi Pinhal Interior confirmed in May that it was “aware that two of its employees assigned to this sub-concessionary were questioned and constituted defendants in the scope of the investigation” to the fires of Pedrógão Grande.

On the same day, EDP Distribuição declined to specify the number of its employees alleged to have been accused, merely saying that the company “has been collaborating with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the ongoing investigation process, awaiting the conclusions the same”.

Source Diarios de Noticais