Architect ‘supervised’ building site that killed Jean Paul Sofia via WhatsApp

One of Sofia’s last tasks was to take photos of his colleagues pouring concrete on the building’s roof, which led to its collapse and his death.


The architect responsible for the Kordin construction site that claimed the life of 20-year-old Jean Paul Sofia, Adriana Zammit, managed the project through pictures sent to her via WhatsApp.

The conclusions of the magisterial inquiry into the tragedy paint a clear picture of how the project’s architect rarely visited the site to monitor construction progress and gave instructions by WhatsApp message, mainly through one of the developers of the ill-fated building.

In his technical report, court expert and veteran architect Alex Torpiano places most of the blame for the tragedy on Zammit, who got her warrant in 2012 and currently works at Infrastructure Malta.

Torpiano told the inquiry that the builders said they had never even seen Zammit on site and admitted that work instructions were given to them by one of the two developers, Matthew Schembri,

Schembri – the self-appointed site manager with no qualifications to act in any such capacity – also admitted as much to the inquiry.

“During the construction phase of this project, it resulted that architect Adriana Zammit used to depend on WhatsApp (pictures) to give instructions on how works should proceed,” the inquiry states.

“According to her WhatsApp messages, particularly with Matthew Schembri, it results that she based the work’s supervision on pictures of the works sent to her by Schembri himself,” it added.

In fact, Jean Paul Sofia’s last order before the building collapsed like a house of cards was to take photographs of fresh concrete being poured on the building’s roof. The photographs were to be sent to the architect.

A photograph salvaged from Jean Paul Sofia’s phone of colleagues pouring cement onto the doomed building’s roof just before the structure suddenly collapsed.

Adriana Zammit, who was a Planning Authority case officer for years before joining Infrastructure Malta, refused to give evidence before the Magistrate. She demanded to be given the evidence the police had against her before answering any questions. Her demands were turned down.

She – along with Schembri, Buhagiar, a Serbian contractor and his wife from Bosnia Herzegovina – were charged with involuntary homicide, among a raft of separate individual charges, last Sunday, just short of 48 hours since their arrest after the magisterial inquiry was concluded and handed to the police.

Zammit herself was separately charged with failing to conduct works according to industry standards and good practice.

They all pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Magistrate contradicts Prime Minister

Prime Minister Robert Abela spent months resisting calls from Sofia’s parents for a public inquiry to delve into the shortcomings of the state and its entities in the tragedy, arguing that a magisterial inquiry would suffice.

Inquiring Magistrate Marse-Ann Farrugia, however, contradicted him by stating that the law only permitted her to investigate the incident and any connected crimes.

“This inquiry (known as in genere) didn’t have – and cannot legally have – terms to investigate possible administrative or legislative flaws. These issues can form the terms of another investigation (inquiry) by other competent authorities according to law.”

Following a parliamentary vote in which Prime Minister Abela instructed all his MPs to vote against a public inquiry, he made a spectacular U-turn a few days later and just before tens of thousands of people were due to protest in front of his office at Castille.

It is so far not known how public land administered by INDIS Malta was awarded to Schembri and Kurt Buhagiar to build a timber factory. The latter admitted to the inquiry that his role was mainly to acquire the necessary permits through his “good contacts”.

Buhagiar, who spent a year in jail in Sicily for illegal migration, is the right-hand man of Lands CEO Robert Vella. Before that, he was also the driver of Malta Enterprise Chairman William Wait.

The government has so far not defined the upcoming public inquiry’s terms of reference.

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2 months ago

Jien li qrajt l-Inkjesta nista’ ngħid li d-difetti tal-perita Zammit fid-disinn tal-pjanti – kif imsemmi mill-perit espert maħtur mill-Qorti – huma ferm u ferm aktar gravi mis-superviżjoni tagħha bil-Whatsapp waqt il-bini.

Ovvjament superviżjoni bil-Whatsapp turi x’qiegħ kapaċi tmiss, imma t-taħwid fid-disinn juri li din il-persuna hi inkompetenti minn kullimkien, u l-Kamra tal-Periti għandha tieħu konjizzjoni tal-kontenut tal-inkjesta u tieħu passi fil-konfront tagħha. Din il-persuna ma tistax titħalla topera ta’ perita.

Affarijiet bażiċi ta’ statika li bennej tas-sengħa, aħseb u ara perit bil-warrant, ikun jaf, jidher li l-perita lanqas biss tinkludihom fid-disinn tagħha u ħalliet struttura perpura mingħajr l-irbit li hemm bżonn biex tibqa’ magħquda flimkien.

Din timmerita investigazzjoni lil hinn mir-responsabbiltà (jekk hemm) kriminali. U allura l-Inkjesta Pubblika tagħmel sens.

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