Quake school owner jailed for 31 years in Mexico

Media caption,
Rescuers searched for survivors under the rubble at Enrique Rébsamen primary school in Mexico City

A Mexican court has sentenced the owner of a school where 19 children died in a 2017 earthquake to 31 years in prison for culpable homicide.

Mónica García Villegas had illegally built an apartment on top of Mexico City's Enrique Rébsame primary school.

The weight, over 200 tonnes, is thought to have contributed to the school's collapse. Seven adults also died.

García Villega, who was on the run for a year, maintains her innocence and plans to appeal against the verdict.

The collapsed school was the most harrowing symbol of the 7.1-magnitude quake.

The tremor left more than 360 people dead and caused major damage across states in central Mexico.

It happened on 19 September 2017 - exactly 32 years after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake killed about 10,000 people across the country.

What did the court say?

The court in Mexico City announced the sentencing on Wednesday, several weeks after García Villega was found guilty of culpable homicide.

The court also ordered her to pay 400,200 Mexican pesos ($18,600; £14,400) for each of the victims to their families.

Media caption,
Moments after the earthquake hit

The sentencing was met with some frustration by the victims' families who had argued for a longer jail term, the BBC's Mexico correspondent Will Grant reports.

Furthermore, they say it is impossible that she acted alone and want the constructors and inspectors who turned a blind eye to illegal building work to also face charges, our correspondent says.