a former deputy mayor and a trustee under investigation

A former deputy of the former mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin and a condominium manager were indicted in the investigation opened after the collapse of two buildings which left eight people dead in Marseille in November 2018, a- we learned Thursday from the prosecution.

Julien Ruas was in particular in charge of prevention and risk management in the team of the mayor LR of Marseille at the time of the events, Jean-Claude Gaudin. The Liautard cabinet was for its part the trustee of the co-ownership of 65 rue d’Aubagne, the only one of the two buildings that was occupied at the time of the disaster.

Their indictments occur within the framework of an open judicial investigation, in particular for homicides and involuntary injuries and endangering the life of others, and follow that of the social landlord Marseille Habitat. This semi-public company in the city of Marseille owned the second building which collapsed, located at 63 rue d’Aubagne and whose access was blocked in 2017.

Contacted by AFP, Mr. Ruas did not react immediately.

The collapse of two buildings in the popular hyper-center of Marseille on November 5, 2018 left eight people dead.

He shed light on the extent of the problem of unsanitary housing in France’s second city, run for 25 years, until last summer, by Mayor LR Jean-Claude Gaudin, around whom criticism had crystallized.

The examining magistrates in charge of the investigation into this disaster pronounced the indictments, two years after the tragedy, on the basis of a legal expert report which reports a large number of “major failures” and “d ‘missed opportunities’.

In mid-October 2018, the worrying deformation of a wall located in the entrance to the building located at 65 had justified a legal procedure of danger. Only one apartment was then prohibited for occupancy, but the other tenants had been authorized to return to their accommodation.

However, the experts note, “from mid-October 2018, collapses being inevitable, the only measure that was necessary was the urgent evacuation of all the occupants”.

Authorizing emergency work, the trustee, as well as the owners, had been alerted by the tenants until the days preceding the collapse of worrying deformation of door frames, windows no longer closing or the aggravation of cracks. In their report, the experts deplore that the trustee has “not taken the measure of the importance of these warning signs”.

A conflict between the co-ownerships of the buildings at 63, 65 and 67 rue d’Aubagne which had lasted for years had justified no less than nine legal expertises.

During an expert visit on October 25, 2018, the representative of the property manager at 65 rue d’Aubagne noticed the dilapidation of a staircase post located in the cellar and supporting the ground floor. The next day, the trustee sent the following message to a company: “Look at the bottom of the cellar stairs on your left, a pillar that is falling apart, to be repaired”.

According to the experts appointed by the investigating judges, the breaking of this post would have acted as the trigger for the collapse.

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