TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Five people were found guilty of professional negligence and sentenced to five years in prison each over the collapse of a high-rise apartment building in Tainan which killed 115 people during an earthquake last February.
Appeals against the Tainan District Court verdicts were still possible.
In the early morning of February 6, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck the Kaohsiung City district of Meinong. The tremor caused the 17-story Wei Guan Golden Dragon apartment block to topple to one side, burying dozens of people inside.
Never before were so many people killed in one building as during this incident, reports said. About 100 other people were injured in the calamity.
Lin Ming-hui, the former chairman of the developer, Wei-Guan Construction Co., was still being held in detention at the time of the verdict. The four others, who also would each have to pay a fine of NT$90,000 (US$2,800), were the company’s design manager, two architects and a construction technician.
The judges followed the request of prosecutors to issue the maximum sentence of five years for each of them, but survivors and relatives of the victims said they were not satisfied with the outcome. They complained that the officials who had approved the construction and state of the building should also have been punished.
The defendants reportedly saved money for the developer by sacrificing construction quality and expanding floor spaces beyond safety limits.