Relatives win quake damages

Six families that lost relatives when an Athens factory collapsed in the September 1999 earthquake won a total of 2 million euros in damages yesterday from the company owners and the civil engineers who designed the plant. Thirty-nine people died in the ruins of the Ricomex household goods factory, in the northern Athens suburb of Metamorphosis. The earthquake, which registered 5.9 on the Richter scale, claimed a total of 143 victims. Yesterday, an Athens appeals court found that the factory owners had been aware of the building’s serious structural defects but took no action to correct them, thus endangering the lives of the employees. The four civil engineers were found guilty of negligence. Ricomex’s board members and the four engineers have been charged with «murder with possible malice aforethought» over the 39 deaths. The trial is set for March 24. Courts have already awarded hundreds of thousands of euros to claimants over the Ricomex collapse. The factory owners say they will have to sue for bankruptcy.

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