Egypt's High Court (Photo: Reuters)
An Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced nine defendants to prison over the collapse of a building that left 25 people dead in Cairo earlier this year.
The New Cairo misdemeanour court sentenced five of the defendants to one year in prison and fined them EGP 50,000 each, while the remaining four were sentenced to three years.
Three of the defendants are at large. The ruling is not final and can be appealed.
The nine defendants were referred to the criminal court following the collapse in March of a 10-storey building in Cairo’s working-class district of Gesr El-Suez.
They are five building owners, three contractors and the owner of a factory that was located in the building.
According to investigations, the five owners agreed with the contractors to construct more storeys at the building without a license.
The factory owner was charged of changing the status of three of the building's storeys from housing to commercial without a license.
Incidents of building collapses are not uncommon in Egypt and are usually attributed to violations of building regulations, illegal building extensions, and lax government oversight.
However, Egypt has pledged the adoption of “resolute” measures to stop building violations, especially in agricultural lands nationwide.
The state had accepted reconciliation requests from citizens over building violations since last year until the end of March. During this period, the state has received 2.8 million reconciliation requests, the Cabinet said.
The country has seen a significant rise in illegal construction since the security vacuum that followed the 2011 uprising, with many people constructing multi-storey buildings without acquiring the necessary permits or complying with engineering safety standards.