An Italian man has denied causing the death of five people in a road accident in Aberdeenshire.
Alfredo Ciociola is accused of causing the accident on the A96, near Keith, on July 26 2018.
The 47 year-old, of Sicily, was due in the dock for a hearing at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday but was unable to appear due to the coronavirus outbreak.
His QC, Ian Duguid, said: “His original plans involved travelling via Rome and Amsterdam.
“Sicily was not one of the zones that precluded travel, but now it is, I believe.”
Mr Duguid asked for the hearing to go-ahead in his absence.
Lady Stacey replied: “In light of geography I am prepared to grant the application.”
Mr Duguid pled not guilty on Ciociola’s behalf to the charge of causing deaths and serious injury by dangerous driving.
Ciociola is said to have crashed a Fiat minibus into a 4×4 after falling asleep at the wheel.
Fellow Italians Frances Saliba, 63, and four year-old Lorenzo Ciociola – passengers in his vehicle – died.
Edward Reid, 63, of Macduff, Audrey Appleby, 70, and Evalyn Elrick, 69, both of Aberchirder, all Aberdeenshire, were in the other car and also died.
Four other people were also hurt following the crash.
The charge further states Ciociola failed to pay proper attention, repeatedly braked and then drove on to the opposite side of the road.
Mr Duguid said Ciociola will need an interpreter at any future court date as he is only fluent in Italian.
Both he and prosecutor Mark McGuire agreed a trial could be set.
Lady Stacey fixed a trial due to begin on August 7 in Edinburgh.