Fri, Feb 22, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Supreme Court rejects Weiguan appeals

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected appeals by defendants in the Weiguan Jinlong building case in which more than 100 people died after the housing complex collapsed during the 2016 Tainan earthquake.

The court also upheld the sentences for the five defendants of five years in prison and a fine of NT$90,000 each.

The five are Weiguan Corp owner Lin Ming-hui (林明輝); architects Chang Kuei-pao (張魁寶) and Cheng Chin-kuei (鄭進貴); Weiguan design department’s Hung Hsien-han (洪仙汗); and structural engineer Cheng Tung-hsu (鄭東旭).

The Weiguan Jinlong housing complex in Tainan collapsed during a magnitude 6.6 quake on Feb. 6, 2016, resulting in the death of 115 people, while 104 sustained injuries and more than 200 people were rendered homeless.

It was one of the worst man-made disasters in the nation’s history.

Yesterday’s ruling was final and cannot be appealed.

Victims and their families had asked for more severe punishment as the disaster resulted in more than 100 deaths.

However, the charges of “homicide through professional negligence” carried a maximum prison term of five years only.

Following the High Court’s ruling in July last year, all the defendants, except for Lin, filed appeals to either overturn the guilty conviction or receive a lighter sentence.

The four defendants argued that they were not responsible for the disaster because they merely followed Lin’s instructions and that the structural failure was due to alterations to the original architectural plan.

Chang also argued that the construction of the building started in 1992, and as such, had exceeded the 20-year period as statute of limitations for criminal prosecution.

Investigators found that the building was poorly designed and built, and that inferior materials were used to save costs.

They said that Lin had ordered Hung to minimize costs during the design and planning stages, and to use fewer than the required number of reinforcements for beam column joints and to reduce the size of some pillars to further cut costs.

The combination of negligence and cost-cutting led to the collapse of the building, investigators said, citing flaws and load-bearing calculation errors in the original design and later alterations that contributed to the building’s structural weaknesses.

The two architects had helped the company acquire construction certification and other documents without properly supervising the construction work, the investigators added.

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