Arona Ayuntamiento appeals Court ruling which found no criminal responsibility behind collapse of Los Cristianos apartment block

Photo: Arona Ayuntamiento

Updated 27 July: Arona Ayuntamiento has announced that it is appealing the archiving of the case which recently found no criminal liability in the range of factors responsible for the collapse of Edf Julián José. The Court had been charged with identifying the causes of the collapse and determining if any acts or omissions were criminal offences, but the council says that it is asking for the Court to continue with the case, to hear oral evidence and begin summary proceedings because of the existence of a possible reckless homicide offence, punishable under Article 142 of the Código Penal (Criminal Code).

The Council says that it disagrees with the Court’s argument that there is difficulty in clearly identifying imputability (where someone is named as a formal suspect in a case), and asks the Court to consider the potential culpability of Banesto and the company that first carried out works on behalf of the Bank, as well as the subsequent works carried out by a cosmetics shop and those who professionally supervised the works.

The Council’s appeal has been submitted to the Penal Section of the Provincial Courts, and asks for the focus to be on not just whether someone identifiable actually did something specifically criminal, but to be more subjective and consider whether there were acts of omission or unintentional carelessness which led to the collapse in which seven people died, or whether systems or rules were not followed properly or adequately.

Updated 18 July 2018: And in the end, there is no “criminal responsibility” for the tragic collapse of Edf Julián José in April 2016. Such was the decision handed down yesterday by Arona Court 3, which ruled that the collapse was the result of several factors, no single one of which carried penal weight. The building was already in poor condition when works were carried out by Banesto in 2002 and it cannot be conclusively shown that those works caused the building to fall so many years later. So, it is now judged to have been a tragic accident resulting from a range of contributory factors, none of them actively criminal. This ruling explicitly leaves open a civil prosecution route for those affected by the tragedy, and those who lost loved ones among the seven who were killed when the building collapsed.

Original post 14 February 2017: Arona Ayuntamiento has announced that it can now release the results of two technical reports on the causes of the collapse of the building in Los Cristianos in which seven people died in April last year. The council says that it commissioned the reports in May from Atlante, a forensic analysis company, and from the Instituto Técnico de Materiales y Construcciones (INTEMAC). The two reports, numbering more than a thousand pages, were handed over in September and November to Arona Court 3 which was investigating the collapse, and the council says that they have not been made public until now so as not to prejudice the court investigations.

The reports’ conclusions, which I have now seen, indicate that the building was already in a very poor state when it collapsed. Not only were there flaws in design, but materials – especially concrete – of low quality were used in construction. This, together with overloaded foundations, poor maintenance and degradation of the structure’s material over the years, makes it remarkable that it stood for 43 years, says Atlante’s report. The tipping point came as a result of works carried out in the part of the building used by Banesto, most notably the removal of internal walls and flawed mechanical works. The reports say that the building was an accident waiting to happen, and while they provide the technical conclusions of the tragedy, the legal ramifications will now be for the Courts to determine.

2 Comments

  1. If it was known that the building was already in a very poor state when it collapsed then it is a great travesty that something was not done before hand to protect lives.

  2. Author

    I understand that there was a report dating from 2002 or so that it’s condition was very questionable. There is little doubt in my mind that this will form part of the legal investigations that the Court will now be considering, along with what part might have been played by Banesto and the contractors who did their work.

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