Trial for contractors in Maccabiah collapse

JERUSALEM — A trial has been scheduled for the contractors who built a bridge that collapsed during the opening ceremonies of July's Maccabiah Games.

State Attorney Edna Arbel has decided to bring charges against those responsible for organizing and constructing the bridge, Israeli media reported Sunday.

Those who will be charged include Baruch Karagula and Yehoshua Ben Ezra, the contractors who built the bridge; Micha Bar Ilan, the bridge's engineer; Adam Mishori, the head of Irgunit, the firm that subcontracted to Baruch and Karagula; and Yoram Eyal, the head of the organizing committee for the international games.

The decision comes just one week after more than 40 Australian survivors of the bridge collapse announced that they will sue Israeli officials and the company that built the bridge.

Two Australian athletes were immediately killed and hundreds of other participants at the games were injured July 14 when a pedestrian bridge collapsed during the opening ceremony at the Ramat Gan stadium, plunging scores of people into the Yarkon River.

Two more Australians died weeks later as a result of complications that medical officials linked to contaminants in the river water.

One Australian athlete injured in the incident, tennis player Sasha Elterman, 15, has been hospitalized with a brain abscess that doctors say may have been caused by the polluted water.

A week after the bridge collapse, an Israeli commission found that the accident was caused by a chain of failures involving the bridge's planning and construction.

The commission found the engineer and contractors who built the bridge at fault for poor planning and execution.

The commission also found that the contracting company that built the bridge had no experience in bridge construction.

It also criticized Maccabiah organizers for trying to cut costs and for failing to closely supervise the construction work.

Leaders of the Australian Jewish community have expressed frustration with what they said was the investigation's slow pace.

In recent visits to Israel and in meetings with prosecutors, they have demanded that those responsible for the collapse face charges.