The construction chief of an apartment building in Medellin that collapsed and killed 11 last fall has been placed under house arrest while awaiting charges of criminal negligence, reported local media Wednesday.
Carlos Ruiz reportedly granted licenses during the construction phase of the residential complex and is taken to court for contributing to the 11 deaths that resulted when one of the building’s six towers collapsed in October 2013.
The decision to place Ruiz under house arrest was taken by the 42nd Municipal Criminal Court of Medellin. The prosecution has accused Ruiz of negligence, alleging he approved shortcuts to work around structural flaws in the building’s design.
According to the investigative agency tasked with the case, Ruiz authorized licenses for stages 4, 5, 6A, and 6B of the building in 2007, despite the insufficient safety controls readily apparent in said projects, reported El Espectador.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has deemed that there were substantial “irregularities in the design and construction [of the phases on which Ruiz signed off], especially in the beams, columns, and murals, in which over a thousand irregularities were found.”
Meanwhile, Pablo Villegas, the legal representative of CDO, the construction company responsible for building Space; Jorge Aristizabal, a structural engineer involved in the project; and Maria Cecilia Posada, the project manager; pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter and were not sentenced to house arrest.
Unlike the other defendants, Ruiz was considered a danger to society, as the architect was still practicing at the start of the trial. According to El Espectador, several other buildings Ruiz worked on with the CDO group have since been evacuated, after further structural irregularities were discovered.
The 24-story apartment building under construction in the wealthy south of Medellin collapsed in October 2013. Twelve people were killed, although fortunately the number of casualties was limited, as cracks in the walls forced the evacuation of Tower Six before it collapsed.