Police consider CTV quake deaths probe

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 14:10 24/02/2014
ctv building
Michael Fox
DEADLY COLLAPSE: The CTV building rescue scene after the Feb 22, 2011, earthquake.

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Police have engaged an engineering firm to review the collapse of the CTV Building in the February 2011 earthquake.

Christchurch police announced this afternoon that the move was part of an ongoing assessment to determine whether a criminal investigation was needed in connection with the deaths caused by the building's collapse.

Detective Superintendent Peter Read said police had contracted national engineering firm Beca to assess engineering issues raised about the building.

A panel of senior engineers would be involved in the review, including some with experience of Christchurch in the 1980s, when the CTV Building was constructed.

Their assessment would also be subject to an international peer review.

Read said the review followed extensive assessments following a report and investigation from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.

Police had reviewed findings from the Coroner's inquest, which was held to determine the circumstances and causes of all earthquake-related deaths in Christchurch.

Final findings from the inquest are due this year.

Read said the Royal Commission findings were "of great assistance" to police, but its terms of reference did not make any determinations as to the question of liability.

"The standard of proof required in a criminal prosecution is of a far higher threshold than that required in the Royal Commission," he said.

"Police must be able to establish facts beyond reasonable doubt, whereas the Commission of Inquiry made many of its determinations on the balance of probabilities."

Police needed to determine that a crime had been committed by an individual as there was no charge of corporate manslaughter under New Zealand law.

"We also need to be sure there is sufficient evidence available to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction of any person charged with a crime."

Read said expert advice was needed because of the highly technical nature of the assessment.

Police expected to make a final decision on whether they would undertake a criminal investigation by September this year.

Families of those who died in the CTV Building collapse had been advised of the review at a private briefing in Christchurch this morning.

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- The Press

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