Engineer convicted in German ice-rink collapse that killed 15

19th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

The district court in Traunstein gave the 68-year-old a suspended, 18-month prison term for negligent homicide.


Traunstein, Germany -- The collapse of a snow-covered indoor ice-skating rink in Germany, which killed 15 people two years ago, was the fault of the engineer who built the rink in 1973, a court ruled Tuesday.

The district court in Traunstein gave the 68-year-old a suspended, 18-month prison term for committing negligent homicide.

Under the enormous weight of snow, roof beams snapped and the building collapsed on skaters on Jan. 2, 2006 in the Alpine resort of Bad Reichenhall, in Germany's far southeast corner.

The court acquitted the architect of the building and another engineer who had inspected the building in 2003 without noticing that moisture was weakening the laminated-wood beams.

The glue in the wood failed and the massive timbers snapped as mothers and children were skating circles below.

Prosecutors had argued that all three men were to blame, while defense counsel sought acquittal. Commentators asked why municipal officials were also not in the dock at the 10-month trial.

When the building was erected, the usual analysis of loads and strains on the 48-metre-long beams was never carried out. No one noticed the wrong glue had been used.

The engineer admitted he built the roof higher than described in the building permit but his lawyer contended this was not the cause of the disaster. The defendant plans to appeal, his lawyer said.

Television pictures went around the world of rescuers working around the clock to remove the snow and debris.

Twelve children and three mothers were killed instantly. Unusually intense falls of snow during the week caused several roof collapses in the region.


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