Involuntary manslaughter charges upheld for lapses in safety in Alpine road tunnel.

The former head of tunnel security at the Mont Blanc Tunnel has been jailed for six months for involuntary manslaughter over the fire that killed 39 people in the tunnel in 1999.

Gerard Roncoli, 62, will serve an additional two-year suspended sentence, while nine other individuals, including mayor of Chamonix Michel Charlet received fines and suspended sentences. Three firms – ATMB, the French concession holders, SITMB, the Italian concession holders and tunnel operators SGTMB - were fined more than £200,000 in total.

The fire broke out in a Belgian lorry going through the seven-mile tunnel, and took 53 hours to bring under control. The president of the court in Bonneville in the French Alps called it an “avoidable catastrophe”.

Volvo, the manufacturer of the lorry that caught fire, was cleared of charges after expert witnesses said that it could not be held responsible.