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Man cleared over crane collapse

A rigging contractor and his company have been cleared of manslaughter after a crane collapsed in a New York building site, killing seven people.

William Rapetti was the only person to face criminal charges over the incident in March 2008.

The 49-year-old and his company Rapetti Rigging Services were cleared at the Manhattan State Supreme Court after challenging the conclusion of prosecutors, government regulators and city bosses over the causes of the accident.

However Rapetti still faces a civil court case into the incident.

His criminal trial - which offered competing accounts of bad crane parts and poor judgment - is likely to help shape the civil cases, lawyers say.

Six builders and a tourist from Florida were killed when the crane collapsed.

The collapse - and a second one in New York that killed two people two months later - raised questions about crane safety around the country, sparking new inspections and other measures from New York to Chicago to Dallas.

Rapetti had declined a jury for the nearly month-long trial, which included technical details of crane design, emotional accounts from survivors of the collapse and even a field trip by the judge to see the wreckage in a police storage site.

The judge Roger Hayes cleared Rapetti and his company of manslaughter and other charges that could have sent him to prison for up to 15 years.

Rapetti was also acquitted of a tax-filing charge punishable by up to a year in jail.

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