Vietnam court suspends trial of 2 foreigners over deadly scaffolding collapse

By Nguyen Dung - Khanh Hoan, Thanh Nien News

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Three people, including two South Koreans, stand trial in the central province of Ha Tinh on November 16. The hearing was later suspended. Photos: Nguyen Dung Three people, including two South Koreans, stand trial in the central province of Ha Tinh on November 16. The hearing was later suspended. Photos: Nguyen Dung

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A court in the central province of Ha Tinh on Monday delayed the trial of two South Koreans and two Vietnamese accused of negligence that led to the deaths of 13 construction workers in a scaffolding collapse earlier this year. 
The suspension was due to the absence of Nguyen Thai Duc, one of the defendants, and several witnesses. Duc, 30, reportedly cited health reasons.
The hearing will be resumed in "a suitable time," the Ha Tinh People's Court said.
Duc and the other three defendants, Nguyen Anh Tuan, 27, Kim Jong Wook, 43, and Lee Jae Myeong , 62, were charged with "violating labor safety rules" at the construction site of Taiwanese-invested steel mill complex Formosa on March 25.
They could be jailed for 12 years, if convicted.
According to the indictment, Kim was in charged of supervising the construction of a breakwater, and Lee was tasked with managing 43 workers on site.
Both were then employees of Samsung C&T, a construction subsidiary of the electronics giant and a contractor for the US$10-billion project of Formosa Plastics Group in Vung Ang Economic Zone. 
The scaffolding structure
A graphic published by news website VnExpress in March 2015 shows the work platform, measuring 25 meters by 40 meters, before the collapse.
Tuan and Duc were in charge of controlling the scaffold's lifting hydraulic system, which was used to adjust the height of a work platform. 
Investigators have concluded that the system failed and caused the accident. 
When the work platform was being lowered from a height of 20 meters down to the ground, it shook violently, sending many workers running, prosecutors said.
After the shaking happened twice, Kim and Lee climbed onto the scaffolding to check if there was any problem, but allegedly did not carry out a proper inspection. They then ordered the workers to come back to work, according to prosecutors.
Tuan and Duc, on the other hand, discovered some cylinders of the lifting system breaking down. But they allegedly failed to inform their managers of the issue and instead, attempted to fix the problem. 
Soon later the scaffolding tumbled down. 
With 13 workers killed and another 29 injured, the incident is the second deadliest in Vietnam’s construction history after the collapse of two spans of a bridge being built in the Mekong Delta in 2007, which killed 55 workers and injured 80 others.
The Can Tho Bridge between Can Tho city and Vinh Long Province was completed in 2010.

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