Court drops ’99 quake charges after file error

The intensity of the September 1999 earthquake and not shoddy construction was to blame for the collapse of a northern Athens building in which one man died, according to a court decision that cleared the civil engineer involved of manslaughter charges. A report in yesterday’s Ethnos daily said Aristides Stathakis was exonerated after the court heard he had been charged with manslaughter with possible premeditated malice as a result of sloppy filing of documents by Public Works Ministry employees. The owner of a small textile business, Dimitrios Hadzianastassiou, died in the ruins of the building on Tatoiou Street during the 5.9-Richter quake. An initial investigation had blamed Stathakis, as the structure did not comply with the plans filed for the building permit. It later transpired that another building’s plans had been mistakenly placed in the file.