Man jailed for 208 years over Mexico school quake collapse

Reuters

Posted at Jul 15 2021 09:08 AM | Updated as of Jul 15 2021 09:35 AM

Man jailed for 208 years over Mexico school quake collapse 1
Mexican rescue teams look for people trapped in the rubble at the Enrique Rebsamen elementary school in Mexico City on Sept. 20, 2017. Mario Vasquez, AFP/File

MEXICO CITY - A Mexican court has sentenced a man to 208 years in prison for the criminal homicides of 26 people, most of them children, who died when a school collapsed during a powerful earthquake that struck Mexico City in 2017, authorities said on Wednesday.

The Mexico City attorney general's office said it had shown that the man described as a works director had guaranteed the structural safety of the school in Tlalpan, a southern district of the capital, without carrying out the required testing and despite irregularities in the building's construction.

The attorney general's office named the man as Juan "N." Local media identified him as Juan Mario Velarde Gamez.

The court also ordered Velarde to pay 377,450 pesos ($19,000) to each of the victims' families.

Nineteen children and 7 adults died when the privately owned Enrique Rebsamen school collapsed during the 7.1-magnitude quake, the most deadly in Mexico in a generation. At least 369 people died in the capital and surrounding states.

Mexican prosecutors said at the time they had opened a probe into the potential criminal responsibility of the owner and private inspectors for the collapse.

The sentence comes during an investigation into the collapse of an overpass on Line 12 of Mexico City's metro on May 3, which also killed 26 people. The line suffered damage in the same quake, government data showed. 

($1 = 19.8623 Mexican pesos)

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