208-year jail sentence over school collapse in Mexico quake

·1-min read
Nineteen children were among those killed when the school collapsed in the 2017 earthquake

A Mexican court has sentenced a man who approved flawed construction work at a school where 26 people died in a 2017 earthquake to 208 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Nineteen children were among those crushed to death when the private Rebsamen elementary school in the capital collapsed after the 7.1-magnitude quake.

Juan Mario Velarde, described as the director responsible for works, approved the structural safety of the school without carrying out the necessary tests and despite construction irregularities, the Mexico City prosecutor's office said.

He was sentenced "for his criminal responsibility in the crime of homicide" over the 26 deaths, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

The "historic sentence" was the result of "professional malpractice and a completely fraudulent action," prosecution spokesman Ulises Lara told the Milenio television station.

Despite knowing that "there were serious structural risks," Velarde allowed the school to continue operating, Lara said.

In October, school owner and head Monica Garcia Villegas was sentenced to 31 years in prison for culpable homicide.

She was arrested after it was discovered that she had built a large apartment on top of the classrooms, the weight of which is thought to have contributed to the building's collapse.

Critics allege that cost-cutting, corruption or incompetence by construction firms and the authorities contributed to the destruction caused by the quake, which left 369 people dead.


Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting