Polish prosecutors charge three over roof collapse

Prosecutors in Poland said today they have filed charges against three managers of a company that owned an exhibition hall which collapsed last month, killing 65 people.

The snow-covered roof of the hall in the southern city of Katowice collapsed on January 28 during a racing pigeon fair that had drawn visitors from across Europe.

Another 140 people were hurt.

The three men, who were detained for questioning yesterday, neglected safety measures, failed to consult specialists about the impact of bad weather and failed to cancel the fair, prosecutor Tomasz Tadla said.

The three, who include New Zealander Bruce Robinson, president of the Katowice International Fair, could be jailed for eight years if convicted on charges of negligence and exposing people at the fair to the loss of life, Tadla said.

The two Poles were identified only as Ryszard Z. and Adam H.

Tadla did not specify what evidence had prompted the charges. However, prosecutors, who have questioned some 200 people so far as part of their investigation, say the managers were aware of past problems at the 110,000sq-ft hall.

In January 2002, heavy snowfall made the large surface of the roof bend under the weight, while a further deformation of steel elements in the hall was noticed in January of this year.

Prosecutors are also checking whether there were any irregularities in the company’s financial records.

Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said yesterday that the government will soon start making special payments to survivors of the accident and relatives of those killed.

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