The driver and conductor of the passenger bus which met with an accident at Yangalmodara in 2005 after colliding with a train killing over 40 people, were sentenced to death by the Kurunegala High Court today.
The High Court judge ruled that the driver and conductor were responsible for the death of 41 passengers and creating bodily harm to around 30 others.
Both convicts had 100 other charges against their name in relation to the case. The privately owned Colombo-bound passenger bus from Galkiriyagama collided with an inter-city express train running from Colombo to Kandy in April 2005.
The bus was pulled by the train nearly 75 metres before bursting into flames. It was reported at the time that about 120 passengers were aboard the bus, which had seats for only 55 passengers.
According to eyewitnesses, when the bus reached the level crossing, the gate had been closed. But the bus conductor alighted and signalled the driver to drive the bus in a zigzag manner across the rail track to avoid the gate, despite the warnings of the gate operator. As the train approached, the rear half of the bus was still on the track.
It was later revealed that the bus crew took the risk to gain an advantage over another passenger bus following the same route. (Colombo Gazette)