NEWS

Statute kills charges from Athens ’99 quake

Six people facing criminal and misdemeanor charges over the collapse, during the 1999 earthquake, of an Athens apartment block in which 16 residents died were cleared yesterday, as the building was constructed sufficiently long ago to preclude their prosecution. The four-story building at 21 Psychari Street in Metamorphosis, western Athens, collapsed during the 5.9-Richter quake on September 9. Twenty-two people managed to escape from the rubble. Four apartment owners as well as the building’s contractor and civil engineer were charged with murder with possible malice aforethought, multiple grievous bodily harm and breaches of building regulations. This followed an investigation from which it emerged that the block had not been built according to earthquake protection regulations extant at the time. As construction ended in October 1979, a council of misdemeanor court judges found yesterday that there was no legal reason to lift the legal, 20-year statute of limitation.