MEXICO CITY (AP) — Prosecutors in Mexico City announced on Monday that they have filed criminal charges against 10 “individuals and businesses” over construction and design flaws that caused an elevated subway line to collapse in May, killing 26 people.
Ulises Lara, the spokesman for the city’s attorney general, said the charges relate to negligent or involuntary homicide, damage and injury. Lara did not name the accused persons, in accordance with the rules of the presumption of innocence.
But local media reported they included former city officials responsible for building the subway line more than a decade ago.
Lara said no arrest warrants have been issued for those involved and they will be asked to appear before a judge at the initial hearing in the case, scheduled for October 25.
Prosecutors say expert studies found the collapse was due to construction flaws such as poor welds and missing connection studs. Poor design would also have played a role.
In the case of the companies involved, prosecutors said the purpose of the criminal charges was to make them pay or repair damage to the subway and the victims. Criminal charges against individuals could apparently result in jail time for them.
The prosecutors’ report, presented last week, was similar, but somewhat broader, to the findings presented by Norway’s private certification company DNV in September.
Both reports cite improperly welded, misplaced and completely missing studs that were intended to join the steel support beams to a layer of concrete supporting the track bed.
But prosecutors also cited poor welds in the steel beams underlying the concrete track bed that failed to adhere or split. The steel braces intended to stiffen the metal beams were too short or incorrectly fixed, and the raised line was not designed with sufficient safety margin.
The faults deformed the undercarriage of the train line, resulting in “fatigue cracks” which reduced the load bearing capacity of the structure.
Mexico City’s $1.3 billion Metro Line 12 was built between 2010 and 2012 when current Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard was the capital’s mayor. Ebrard is seen as one of the likely contenders to succeed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The project was plagued by alleged cost overruns and design flaws, corruption and conflicts of interest.
The city was forced to close the line in 2014, just 17 months after its inauguration, so that the tracks could be replaced or repaired. The section that collapsed has remained closed since May.
Some companies involved in the original construction have since argued that heavier ballast and other alterations and repairs over the years may have added too much weight to the raised line or that it may have been weakened by the tremors Frequent land trips from Mexico City.