Trial for fatal Santorini roof collapse to begin next week

Six years after a deadly accident at the Akrotiri archaeological site on Santorini, the trial to find who, if anyone, was culpable is due to begin, sources told Kathimerini on Thursday.

Twelve people are due to go on trial at a misdemeanors court on the island of Naxos in connection to the collapse of a huge steel roof covering the remains of the ancient Minoan settlement in September 2005. The defendants include civil engineers, architects and constructors involved in the project to build the roof, which began in 1999 and had almost been completed by the time of the accident.

The bioclimatic roof gave way as workers were watering soil laid over it. The accident led to a British tourist, 46-year-old Richard George Bennion, being killed and six others being injured.

Those on trial face charged of manslaughter through neglect, causing bodily harm, damaging a monument and violating building regulations. All of these charges are misdemeanors and carry short jail sentences or fines.

The trial has been postponed three times and there were fears that this would lead to the statute of limitations for the alleged offenses, which is five years, expiring but a legal technicality means that this deadline has been extended by three years.

The start of the trial comes a few months after the beginning of work to build a new roof over the site. The project to erect a new structure was repeatedly held up by legal complications and government red tape. Last year, the town planning office on Santorini refused to give permission for the roof to be built but after a few months it changed its position and a Culture Ministry council also gave the green light for work to begin.

The construction is expected to last until next year as the remnants of the previous structure have to be removed first.

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