Debris hangs from the Metropol building a 10-story commercial building under construction, in the southwestern city of Abadan, Iran, May 24, 2022. (Tasnim)

August 31, 2022

Twenty-one individuals have been sentenced to three years in prison – one of them posthumously – in connection with the collapse of the Metropol building in Abadan.

The announcement was made by Masoud Satayshi, a spokesman for the judiciary, at a press conference on Tuesday. Among those convicted, he said, were the city’s current mayor and two former mayors.

All 21, he said, will be expected to pay blood money to the families of victims and survivors of the disaster on May 23 this year. Those who worked in government jobs are permanently banned from working in the public sector.

Tower 2 of Metropol, a 10-storey, part-unfinished commercial complex, caved in due to corner-cutting in its design and non-adherence to building safety rules, seemingly with the tacit assent of local officials.

Scores of people, including construction workers and shoppers passing by at street level, were killed. Many of their bodies were never recovered from the rubble.

According to Satayshi, the charges against the 21 included “suspected intentional murder” and “suspicious intentional bodily harm” on the basis of wilful non-compliance with government regulations.

He added that Hossein Abdolbaghi, the building’s owner and the ostensibly dead 21st defendant, was allotted “75 percent of the blame”. The owner of Metropol Holdings and a notorious local property developer, Abdolbaghi was said to have been killed in the collapse.

Many, though, doubted the veracity of this after state media broadcast footage purporting to show a body. There would have been little reason for Abdolbaghi, who was IRGC connections, to be onsite that day and many believe he has instead been permitted to flee Iran.

Pivand Allameh, an Abadan-based emergency doctor, was later said by independent Abadan-based reporters to have refused to confirm the identity of the corpse as Abdolbaghi.

Allameh himself then died on Friday, June 27 after falling from the eighth floor of the tower block where he lived. The journalist Saeed Hafezi wrote: “He didn’t commit suicide. He was murdered.”

Earlier on in the case, judicial officials announced the seizure of all property and assets formerly owned by Abdolbaghi, saying proceeds from it would be used to compensate the families of those killed.

Iran Wire

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Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.