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In court after the death of two workers, a succession of subcontractors pass the buck


One scene alone could sum up these first three days of hearings: men who face each other in court and blame each other. In a brick room, almost full, the families of the defendants huddle together on a bench, faces closed. Almost no families of the victims were present during the hearing, most of them not being in France.

Since Monday January 30, the Bobigny court has been trying to determine the level of responsibility of seven men – and three companies – in the death of two workers, undeclared, undocumented and inexperienced, on a construction site in Seine-Saint-Denis, on June 8, 2019. Wednesday 1er February, the prosecution requested sentences of up to eight months in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros against the defendants, tried in particular for manslaughter and concealed work.

Three and a half years earlier, Kamel Benstaali, 34, and Omar Azzouz, 29, were working on the thermal renovation of tower D of the La Source housing estate in Epinay-sur-Seine. It was necessary to load buckets of glue up to the top of the building, thanks to a lifting platform which, on the morning of June 8, was unhooked from June 18e stage.

“I looked up and saw the basket fly”, says Hafid Biyi, 62, who swings from one leg to the other. He was at the time “site manager” for the Renovation and Insulation Company (SRI), which recruited the two victims. “It wasn’t perfect, we were overwhelmed with work”he acknowledges.

“Ghost Manager”

Hafid Biyi was also a worker and commercial for this company of four employees, whose approval to intervene on the Epinay site was debated at length during the first day of hearing. On this site, it was the interlocutor of all, even if it ensures not to be the leader of the company. Advances him the name of Fathy Abou Shreef, a “ghost manager”, often mentioned during the hearing but not found since the accident. It is his name that appears on the declarations of hiring, filled two days after their death, of Kamel Benstaali and Omar Azzouz. If Hafid Biyi’s lawyers ask that their client not “Do not pay for the faults of Mr. Abou Shreef”the court has doubts about the division of functions between the two men.

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Hafid Biyi asserts at the bar “not knowing” the two workers before this morning of June 8. Nevertheless, telephone analyzes attest to the presence of Omar Azzouz for several weeks on the site. He says ” All “ unaware of the two victims and not knowing if they had the BTP card, necessary to work. “Who was in charge of verifying these cards? »asks Elisabeth Dugre, president of the court. ” Person “he finally let go. “And who was to ensure compliance of the platform? »asks the president. “I didn’t do it, I didn’t have the skills”he said, lowering his voice again.

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