Stone slab killed boy in Beuel last year Bonn artist accused of negligent homicide

Beuel · The Bonn public prosecutor's office has brought charges against a Beuel stonemason for negligent killing by omission. The occasion is the tragic death of a ten-year-old boy who was crushed by a marble stele while playing in March 2018.

After the dramatic death of a ten-year-old boy who was buried under a marble stele a year ago, the Bonn public prosecutor's office has now brought charges. A 65-year-old woman will soon have to answer for the tragic accident for negligent killing by omission. The stonemason is accused of having left her man-high sculptures, granite and marble slabs unsecured in front of her studio on Siebenmorgenweg in Beuel and of not having checked their stability. In doing so, she had missed the necessary duty of care.

On the afternoon of March 16, 2018, the ten-year-old had been set-down by his father on the grounds of the Old Wallpaper Factory in Beuel, according to the prosecution. The boy had met there with his boyfriend of the same age. The two pupils had been on their way to a private children's play club; the public, freely accessible path to the facility led them past the stonemason's studio, whose property with the sculptures had only been partially secured by hedges or walls; there had been a gap in between.

1.83 metres high, 500 kilos

As his friend later reported to the police, the ten-year-old had shaken a marble column and tried to climb it, while the stone slab - 1.83 metres high and weighing 500 kilos - had fallen on the boy and buried him under it. The friend ran back to his father, who was still on the premises, and screamed for help.

According to the prosecution, however, the father could not lift the heavy marble slab on his own to free his son underneath. Employees of a nearby gym, but also of the Kinderspiel-Verein, managed to lift the stele together. The severely injured boy was still alive, but any help came too late; he died on his way to the hospital from a traumatic brain injury.

According to the prosecutor, the artist knew that children regularly passed her studio and climbed there on their way to the play club. It would therefore have been their duty to secure her heavy works of art. According to a TÜV report, the deadly stele could have toppled over even in a strong wind. It was irregularly shaped - narrow at the bottom and wide at the top - and therefore had a difficult centre of gravity.

According to her defender, the stonemason repeatedly warned the play club that the children should not play or climb on her studio grounds. She had also had two helpers check the stability of her works of art at irregular intervals. The defense's motion that the tragic death should not be publicly negotiated, but rather suspended in advance, was - as a spokesman for the authorities confirmed on Wednesday - rejected by the public prosecutor's office. The trial will soon begin before the Bonn District Court.

(Original text: Ulrike Schödel / Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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