A French court on Wednesday found the Paris airports operator guilty of involuntary manslaughter over the 2004 terminal collapse at Charles de Gaulle.airport less than a year after it opened, killing four people. Aeroports de Paris (ADP) was ordered to pay the maximum fine of 225,000 euros (USD 254,000) by the court in Bobigny, just north of the capital.
Three subcontractors -- the construction company which built the vaulted glass-and-concrete roof at Terminal 2E, and engineering and inspection firms -- were ordered to pay fines of 100,000 to 150,000 euros. The accident occurred early on May 23, 2004, 11 months after the building, designed by award-winning French architect Paul Andreu, was inaugurated to widespread acclaim.
Six concrete arches and walkways stretching over 30 metres (100 feet) crashed down as passengers waited to board flights at the ultra-modern, 650-million-euros terminal that ADP boasted was a "showcase for France". Two people from China and one each from Lebanon and Ukraine were killed. Seven were injured, including two border police officers sent to the terminal after reports of a worrying crack in the building.
The court found that the projet was "technically incomplete." It also ruled that the subcontractors incorrectly carried out the calculations necessary to determine whether the concrete arches could support the long stretches of glass. ADP will wait to receive and study the ruling before deciding whether to appeal, the group's deputy chief executive Edward Arkwright told AFP.
Andreu, who designed all the terminals at Charles de Gaulle, denied after the accident that he had been pushing technical boundaries with his glass tube design. The architect, who attended France's prestigious Polytechnique and Ponts et Chaussees engineering schools, died last October aged 80.
The court's ruling comes as the government is planning to sell shares of ADP to the public as part of a privatisation drive for several state-owned companies. Critics accuse officials of selling a prized asset that manages either directly or indirectly 26 airports around the world, and brought 173 million euros in dividends for the state in 2017.
(With inputs from agencies.)