Ricomex trial ruling rouses ire

After a trial lasting four months, an Athens court yesterday handed down five-year suspended sentences to two of the four people accused in connection with the death of 39 people in a factory that collapsed near Athens in a 1999 earthquake. The court ruling angered relatives of the victims, who had all been employees at the Ricomex household goods factory, in the northern suburb of Metamorphosis. The earthquake, which registered 5.9 on the Richter scale, claimed a total of 143 victims. One of the relatives who attended the trial said the deceased had been treated as «road accident victims.» By a majority vote of 5-2, the court also reduced the charges against architect Nikos Scholidis and civil engineer Alexandros Dovas from that of «murder with possible malice aforethought» to «manslaughter due to unintentional negligence,» a misdemeanor. The two other accused, engineers Emmanouil Kotzastratis, who was found not to have been actively involved in the construction of the building, and Athanassios Vassilakis, were acquitted.

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