Banquet Hall Owners Ignored All the Warning Signs

The trial of nine people linked to the 2001 Versailles banquet hall disaster began in October 2002. Engineer Eli Ron is accused of manslaughter, his former assistant, engineer Uri Pesach, is charged with death through negligence, as are engineers Dan Sheffer and Shimon Koffman, building engineer Yaakov Adiv and the owners of the hall, Avi Adi, David Adi, Uri Nissim and Efraim Adiv. Their trial is still continuing at the Jerusalem District Court.

The indictment states that throughout the 1980s, "building professionals and experts warned Ron, both verbally and in writing, that Pal-Kal ceilings did not meet safety standards."

The charge sheet also states that contractor Yaakov Adiv, who built the building, was not legally authorized to carry out such extensive construction work and he did not have a permit as a project manager. "The defendant," says the indictment, "was responsible for the construction flaws in the building's ceilings on the whole, and the banquet hall's floor in particular."

Furthermore, in April 2001, just six weeks before the floor collapsed, said the charge sheet, the hall's owners noticed that the floor was sinking. "Despite the unusual sinking, the defendants did not take care of the matter and have it checked by a qualified engineer, making do instead with repairing the tiling," said the indictment.

The floor collapsed on May 26, 2001 during Keren and Assaf Dror's wedding as 700 guests joined in the celebrations.