Prosecutors filed manslaughter charges Thursday against two engineers and the firms they work for over the collapse of a Tel Aviv parking lot roof in 2016 that killed six people and injured nearly two dozen others.
Charges of reckless manslaughter and reckless injury were filed against two engineering firms and against two engineers, one from each of the two companies.
The four-story parking garage, in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood in north Tel Aviv, was under construction but nearing completion when the roof caved in on September 5, 2016, trapping several workers.
Rescue efforts were hampered by the fact that the structure was built underground, with only the roof at ground level. It took until September 11 for all six victims’ bodies to be recovered. At least 23 people were injured.
“The chain of cumulative failures and acts by the defendants… caused the serious disaster,” prosecutors wrote in the indictment filed at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.
Documents listed Miller, Shnabel and Tzahar construction firm and its owner Hanoch Tzahar as defendants, along with the Yaron-Shimoni-Shaham engineering consulting firm and one of its senior engineers, Ariel Babaganov.
No charges were filed against the project manager and construction engineer, who were also investigated as part of the probe.
Prosecutors alleged that changes to the original design plans were made to save money on the project, leading to the collapse.
At the time of the collapse, the roof was bearing just a third of the weight it was designed to hold, the Walla website reported, citing court documents.
Attorneys representing Yaron-Shimoni-Shaham said in a statement that “the office has no responsibility over what is done by the contractor without their knowledge or approval,” Walla reported.
Attorney Yulia Shenkar, representing the families of two of those killed in the disaster, Dennis Dyachenko, a Ukrainian national employed in Israel, and Mark Nazarov, lamented the amount of time it took to get to the indictment stage.
“The victim’s families have had to wait more than four years for indictments to be filed” to get their day in court, she said.
She explained the delay has prevented the families from advancing in filing compensation suits against those involved as the Supreme Court had ruled they must wait until the indictments are filed.