Kölner Stadtarchiv: Why were three accused acquitted?

Little time? There is a summary at the end of the text.

The disappointment is Frank Pagel to watch. Bent, motionless, folded with hands, he notes the verdict in the process of collapse of the city archives of Cologne. Then, in the early afternoon of March 3, 2009, Pagels & # 39; 17-year-old stepson Kevin and 24-year-old design student Khalid G died in the ruins of a residential building that collapsed as a result of the disaster. Their bodies were found only days later.

In total, seven people blamed the prosecutor for the collapse of the archive. One died before the trial and two others became ill during the trial. Of the remaining four, the court in Cologne has now acquitted three of the accusations of negligent murder and negligence. The prosecutor had demanded conditional punishment.

"I can understand the reasoning of the court, but of course it hurts that nobody ultimately takes responsibility," said Pagel, 50. "Kevin's brother and I wanted to act as co-prosecutors because we owed him and we believed we could handle his death better, but the verdict will probably cause more problems. "

photo gallery

photo & # 39; s

The collapse of the city archives

How did the court come to his decision? The chairman Michael Greve has set it up for three hours.

  • Petra A., head of building supervision of the Cologne Transport Authority (KVB), also the customer, was too far away from the actual events at the construction site. Petra A. refused to testify during the trial.
  • Lars L. and Joachim G., both building supervisors of the "Arge", in which the construction companies involved have organized, have in some cases violated significant obligations. But whether these were the cause of the collapse could only be speculated.
  • Only Manfred A. had to prove a clear misconduct, was the court. The structural engineer, subordinate to Petra A., was seconded by the KVB as supervisor on the construction site. If he had done his duty well, the disaster could have been prevented, Greve said.

The chairman makes it clear: it is clear that the collapse of the city archive was caused by "serious mistakes" in the construction of the new metro line in Cologne city center. Any other attempt at explanation must be excluded.

For example, it was neglected to remove a block of natural stone. In September 2005, the workers were confronted with digging and securing the pit for the construction of a new metro station in the center of Cologne. Eventually it was decided to leave the obstacle in the ground and to build the walls around the obstacle to secure the pit. A polisher, who became ill during the process and whose procedure was separated, forged building diaries and obscured the further existence of the obstacle.

The archive has been deprived of the foundation

According to a report by the famous geotechnical engineer Hans-Georg Kempfert, a hole formed in one of the walls as a result of the improper handling of the stone. On 3 March 2009, 5,000 cubic meters of earth, mud and gravel shot through the excavation on 3 March 2009 – the adjacent city archives were virtually devoid of their foundation.

Judge Greve pulverized the opposition of the defense with just a few words and thereby dared the participating construction companies. These had claimed that the collapse had not been caused by an error, but because suddenly huge amounts of water had penetrated the ground. The report was based on assumptions and speculations that it was incomplete and not based on facts, Greve called. For the expert the judge found clear words: "His remarks were meant to confuse us."

In contrast to the three acquitted Manfred A. had to know the dangers, said the chairman. He had claimed in the proceedings that he had been told that the stone had been removed. "That's unbelievable," said Greve. "The mistake would have struck you and you would have to take countermeasures." According to Greve, Manfred A. could have prevented the collapse of the city archives. "The accident and death of the two people was predictable for you."

Total damage in the billions

But since his only blunder was in a long working life, the court sentenced him to eight months in prison for negligent murder, which put Greve on trial. The Prosecution had demanded ten months. The defender of Manfred A. has already announced a revision.

It was only because of happy circumstances that no more people were killed, Greve said. There are people who probably know what exactly happened, explains Greve. "It is to be feared that those responsible will bring their knowledge to the grave."

The processing of the collapse is far from over. During the criminal proceedings, a building supervisor was heavily taxed. His lawsuit was opened in August. It must be completed by March 2019 at the latest, otherwise the statute of limitations threatens. Whether the two sick culprits can negotiate until then is unclear.

Moreover, there is still no civilian process. It is about who has to pay the total damage estimated at € 1.2 billion. The damage to the archives alone amounts to 627 million euros.

In brief: The verdict was passed in the first collapse of the municipal archives of Cologne. The Cologne District Court allowed three accused members of the accusation of negligent murder and negligent building. A man received a conditional sentence. The legal processing of the collapse continues – there is still a criminal case; In addition, it must be clarified who will pay the damage of around 1.2 billion euros.