CHINA> Regional
13 charged in Shanghai building collapse
By Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-29 08:53

SHANGHAI: Thirteen people will face trial over the building collapse in Shanghai last month that killed one person.

Seven people, including Zhang Zhiqin, the largest shareholder of Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Development Company, and Zhang Yaojie, the largest shareholder of Shanghai Zhongxin Construction Company, will be charged with causing a major incident.

Police have detained six of the 13 while the other seven are on bail, said Xie Liming, director of the Shanghai Administration of Work Safety.

If convicted, they could be jailed for seven years.

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The unfinished 13-story building in the Lotus Riverside residential complex fell onto its side on June 27, killing a migrant worker who had gone to his fetch his tools.

Investigators determined it fell because mud was stacked 10 meters high on one side and an underground car park was being built on the other.

"The developer carelessly designated the spot to pile up the mud dug from the underground car park and urged the construction company to build faster. The digging was done without permission from the supervisors. The supervisors failed to take measures after seeing illegal conduct, and the construction company failed to apply protective measures before the digging started," Xie said at a press conference.

Apart from the 13 facing prosecution, eight others, including the owner of the safety watchdog and the owner of the company doing the excavation work have either had their operating licenses revoked, been fined or fired.

Both the developer and the construction company will have their licenses terminated and be fined 500,000 yuan.

Shanghai Construction Group will complete the construction of the remaining 10 buildings in the complex. The toppled-over building remains at the site, but when it is removed the clearing will be used as a lawn or other public facility.

In response to suspicion over the developer's connection with government, Xie said 18 shareholders in Shanghai Meidu Real Estate Development Company that also work for the local government are not employed as civil servants.

According to Chinese law, civil servants are not allowed to be involved in business.

"Nine of them work for local township government or units under it but will be terminated from employment immediately," he said.

Du Yueping, a Shanghai lawyer, said it is not important whether or not they are civil servants.

"It is important whether they are doing the job of a civil servant and taking advantage of it," he said.

Xu Jianping, who owns a unit in the complex, said he was more concerned about whether the building is safe. "And when am I going to be compensated?"