Versailles Wedding Hall Engineer Jailed for 23 Negligent Deaths

2001 Jerusalem wedding of Keren and Asaf Dror ended in tragedy when floor of third-story banquet hall gave way.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

The Jerusalem District court on Thursday handed down a four-year jail sentence to engineer Eli Ron, who developed the "Pal Kal" method of construction used in a Jerusalem banquet hall that collapsed during a 2001 wedding, killing 23 people.

Ron was convicted in December, along with three other engineers, of the negligent deaths of the 23 people who died in the May 2001 disaster. The four were also convicted of negligent assault and injuring 356 people.

Halfway through the reception at the wedding of Keren and Asaf Dror, guests plunged through a massive hole appeared in the floor.

Ron said he will appeal the sentence in the Supreme Court on the grounds that "the disaster was not caused by the Pal Kal."

The three other convicted engineers - Uri Pesach, Dan Shefer and Shimon Kaufman - also received prison sentences.

Pesach, who was Ron's assistant and supervised the construction of the wedding hall, was sentenced to six months in jail and a six-month suspended sentence. Shefer and Kaufman, who designed the building, each received 22 months in prison and an eight-month suspended sentence.

Judge Moshe Gal wrote in his ruling that, "the result of the Versailles disaster is too hard to bear - one of the worst civilian disasters caused by negligence that the state has known since it is establishment. The carnage and the mass injuries destroyed entire families, whose world fell apart in a single moment."

Gal also wrote that, "the defendants are decent people, family men and from the cream of Israeli society. This is usually the nature of criminal negligence, which does not require a criminal mind and is often committed by regular people."

"Ron is a father of three and an outstanding professional, but despite this he intensively and aggressively marketed his construction method and gave false presentations," wrote the judge.

The contractor who built the building, Ya'akov Adiv, was acquitted six months ago after the prosecution failed to tie the disaster to negligence on his part.