French court acquits all in blast that killed 31

AP News
Posted: Nov 19, 2009 11:59 AM

A court has acquitted a subsidiary of French oil giant Total and a former factory chief in a 2001 explosion at a chemical plant that killed 31 people.

The court in Toulouse, in southwest France, acquitted the former chief of the AZF chemical fertilizer plant, Serge Biechlin, and Total subsidiary Grande Paroisse based on the "benefit of doubt." The court decision came Thursday.

Eight years after the explosion that also left more than 2,000 people injured, no one has been convicted.

The blast tore apart the chemical plant with the force of a 3.4 magnitude earthquake. It happened ten days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States, raising fears at the time that the blast had a link with terrorism.