French housing authority charged with manslaughter after building collapse that killed eight

French prosecutors said on Wednesday that the public housing agency for the southern port city of Marseille has been charged with manslaughter over the collapse of two apartment buildings two years ago that left eight people dead.

French housing authority charged with manslaughter after building collapse that killed eight
Photo: AFP

The disaster sparked an outpouring of fury from residents, who accused city officials of long ignoring their complaints about unsafe and unsanitary housing.

Marseille's public prosecutor Dominique Laurens said the housing agency was charged with “involuntary manslaughter through a deliberate violation of security obligations”.

The Mediterranean city's semi-public housing development company was hit with the lesser charges of involuntary injuries and endangering people's lives. Under French law, the filing of charges does not necessarily lead to a trial.

Huge cracks had appeared in one of the buildings before it suddenly crumbled on November 5th, 2018, in Noailles, a working-class district of the city.

The other building had been condemned and boarded up because of safety risks, and the disaster also prompted the partial collapse of a third building, forcing officials to evacuate dozens of people.

The disaster spurred emergency inspections of dilapidated public housing blocks across Marseille, although city officials rejected any responsibility for the collapse.

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French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.