Adriana Zammit, the architect responsible for the Kordin construction site whose collapse caused the tragic death of 20-year old Jean Paul Sofia last December, is still working as an architect in her private capacity as “the law does not allow for preventative [warrant] suspensions”, according to Kamra Tal-Periti President André Pizzuto.
In a comment to The Shift, Pizzuto explained how KTP launched an internal investigation into Zammit’s conduct at the Kordin site but is currently awaiting the magisterial inquiry, complete with the annexed evidence to be sent by the Attorney General before it proceeds with the case and any subsequent disciplinary measures.
Architects who spoke to The Shift said it is debatable whether the courts could have provisionally suspended Zammit’s warrant “in the same way driving licences have been provisionally suspended in other pending cases.”
They said, “It would be the first time to happen, but given this is a very serious case, the court could have set a precedent.”
Zammit has been charged in court with manslaughter after the magisterial inquiry into Sofia’s death concluded that she “through negligence, lack of ability in her profession, or lack of adherence to regulations caused the death”.
The court-appointed expert in the inquiry, Prof. Alex Torpiano, found that Zammit “did not make the necessary calculations to ensure structural stability” and “failed to properly inspect the construction site”.
He also said Zammit “did not show the necessary ability and professional know-how required in her responsibility as the architect”.
Speaking to The Shift, Torpiano said it is standard practice for the courts not to release evidence from a magisterial inquiry to KTP, saying that any preventative action would prejudice the criminal case currently levelled at Zammit.
The inquiry revealed that Zammit rarely visited the site to monitor construction progress and gave instructions through WhatsApp, mainly through one of the developers of the ill-fated building.
Nevertheless, Zammit is still an architect for at least one site in Żejtun on ODZ land, which was approved for development by the Planning Authority last January. The permit, PA/2030/22, which will see an extension to a pre-1967 farmhouse, has raised concern among residents, given Zammit’s involvement at the Kordin site.
Last May, Zammit submitted a signed declaration to the Planning Authority stating that the Żejtun works would not affect adjacent buildings. The Building and Construction Authority dismissed the rejection, saying the works were deemed “extensive and may affect third-party properties”.
Infrastructure Malta suspended Zammit on half-pay following her arrest and subsequent manslaughter charge. She was joined by Matthew Joseph Schembri, Kurt Buhagiar, Milomir Jovicevic and his wife, Dijana Jovicevic, for their involvement in the collapse.
The terms of reference for the upcoming public inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia, which, unlike the magisterial inquiry, will look at the larger political and administrative failures that may have led to the death, were published last Wednesday.
It is expected to investigate the legality of the land allocation from government entities, whether the state has proper regulations in place to prevent such deaths along with their implementation, and whether any state entities failed to take steps to avoid Sofia’s death.
The public inquiry into Jean Paul Sofia’s death starts today.