Judgement in supermarket cave-in trial in Riga
On Tuesday the verdict was delivered in the trial on the collapse of a supermarket roof in Riga in 2013 which killed more than 50 people. A civil engineer was sentenced to six years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and violation of building regulations. The other eight defendants were acquitted. Survivors and relatives of the victims left the courtroom while the sentence was still being read. Rightly so?
Neatkarīgā explains the angry reaction on the part of victims and relatives:
“For many of the victims it's as if another structure had collapsed with this verdict. Only this time it wasn't a supermarket roof, but the image victims and relatives had of a Latvia with a fair justice system. ... Eight defendants, including the architect, the construction expert and supermarket employees, were acquitted. And in the end a civil engineer was given the historic role of scapegoat for the tragedy and for all the rampant absurdities in the building industry. But is he really the only culprit? Hardly.”
Profit once again takes priority over safety
The ruling will only strengthen the indifference that is again the norm in Latvia, Latvijas avīze sighs:
“In the first months after the tragedy people were afraid to enter dubious-looking buildings and were always scouring their facades for cracks. Some institutions also got a case of the jitters and started inspecting left, right and centre. Now everything's back to normal. The court ruling is nothing more than a little warning to engineers that they mustn't make mistakes in their calculations or else they'll end up in prison. But everyone else - owners of construction companies and shopping centres, construction managers and construction workers - can breathe a sigh of relief because they aren't threatened and won't be held accountable. And they can continue making maximum profits with minimum safety.”