French court sentences four over fatal Madonna stage collapse

The accident occurred when one of four cranes putting up metal scaffolding for the stage knocked into the structure's roof
The accident occurred when one of four cranes putting up metal scaffolding for the stage knocked into the structure's roof MICHEL GANGNE AFP/File
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Marseille (AFP)

A French court on Wednesday handed suspended prison sentences to four people charged over the collapse of a stage as it was being set up for a 2009 concert by pop superstar Madonna, which killed two workers.

Judges in the southern city of Marseille, where the concert was to take place, convicted the four of involuntary manslaughter and injuries, while acquitting three others ordered to stand trial.

Eight other workers sustained injuries in the accident, which occurred when one of four cranes putting up metal scaffolding for the stage knocked into the structure's roof.

Charles Criscenzo, 52, of France and Charles Prow, a 23-year-old Briton, were killed at Marseille's Velodrome stadium, and one of the injured workers committed suicide two years later.

Madonna herself did not appear at the trial, saying she was not involved in the technical details and denying any pressure to build the stage more quickly. She did present her condolences to the victims' families.

After a 10-year investigation, Jacqueline Bitton, 73, at the time head of the French operations for the US concert promoter Live Nation, received the most severe sentence, a suspended two-year prison term and a fine of 20,000 euros ($24,000).

Tim Norman, 65, head of the British firm Edwin Shirley Group (ESG) that owned the stage, received a suspended two-year term as well as a 15,000 euro fine.

A manager at a French subcontractor hired by ESG, Tour Concept France, was given a suspended 18-month sentence and a 10,000 euro fine, while a British foreman hired for the job by ESG got 18 months suspended.

Live Nation France was ordered to pay a 150,000 euro fine, and Tour Concept 50,000 euros.