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The South Florida Roundup

The Push For Florida Condo Law Reform, NMB Mayor On Crestview Condos, And The Latest On Haiti's Intelligence In Moise Assassination

AFP/GETTY IMAGES via Miami Herald

The official death toll from the Champlain Towers South collapse keeps climbing as the search and rescue officially ended this week and became a recovery effort.

It has been two weeks since part of the building fell in the middle of the night, killing dozens of people.

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As the recovery work of going through the rubble continues, so does the scrutiny of the building, its owners association, engineering reports, building plans, inspections and notices.

A grand jury in Miami-Dade County agreed to open an investigation into building safety. According to a statement released on Wednesday, the grand jury will issue “recommendations to prevent such a disaster from occurring again, not just in Surfside, and not just in condominiums, but in all buildings and structures in the coastal, intercoastal and surrounding areas of our county, state and nation.”

The Miami Herald Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Ellen Klas said the Florida Bar Association has assembled a special task force that is looking for recommendations to improve oversight for condominiums, either by rule or law. The Florida Engineering Society also created a special working group to make recommendations to the state legislature .

“We've got insurance companies, Realtors, many special interests groups that the condo industry in this state are important to, many of those groups are now clamoring for legislation or a rule change,” Klas said. “We'll see some change [made in the industry].”

The Future Of Crestview Towers Residents Remains Uncertain

The residents of the North Miami Beach condominium complex Crestview Towers, were allowed 15 minutes to enter their homes to collect personal belongings on Friday. It was the first time they were permitted to enter the building since being evacuated due to unsafe conditions.

North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony DeFillipo said the city rejected a report by the Crestview Condo association that said the building is in fair condition.

Miami-Dade County Fire and Rescue identified over 18 outstanding violations that have not been complied with, Crestview has elevators that are not functioning, there are health and safety issues that currently exist that have not been resolved,” DeFillipo said.

Crestview Towers' mandatory 40-year recertification was about nine years behind. DeFillipo said the evacuation was necessary.

“The neglect and the abuse of this association of not acting the way they should have in a timely manner has now brought this association and all of the residents and owners to their knees,” DeFillipo said. “There is no reason why they should have waited this long to address these issues gone unattended with people paying their monthly maintenance fees.”

The city’s police department has launched an investigation into the possible misappropriation of homeowner association and condo fees at Crestview Towers.

Details Emerge On Haitian President’s Assassination

Haitian authorities say they’ve killed a number of suspects and made arrests in connection to the assassination of the country’s president, Jovenel Moïse, who was shot to death inside his home early Wednesday morning.

His wife, Martine Moïse, was wounded and airlifted to Jackson Health System’s Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

The attack on the president has left Haiti, a country already fractured by an unstable economy and rise in criminal violence, stunned.

WLRN News Americas editor Tim Padgett said a press conference held by the Colombian military on Friday revealed many of the suspects involved in the operation are retired Colombian soldiers.

“These soldiers were recruited apparently for security companies in Colombia, and were involved in recruiting ex soldiers to do this kind of mercenary work,” Padgett said. “They all flew out of Colombia this week on two different flights, one into Port au Prince, one over to the Dominican Republic, and then joined the other assassination suspects there and carried out this bizarre operation on Wednesday.”

Padgett said according to Haitian media, one of the Haitian-American suspects arrested, James Solages of Tamarac, told a judge interrogating him that the original mission was not to kill President Moïse but to arrest him and present him to a judge. Solages said he and the other Haitian-American suspect arrested, Vincent Joseph of Miami, were involved only as translators for the other, mostly Colombian, mercenaries allegedly taking part.

More than a dozen people are suspected of having a role in the assassination. Padgett said one of the suspects had a rental-car contract for an SUV believed to have been used during the attack with him when he was arrested.

“And so Haitian authorities are using that kind of evidence now to go back, try to find a paper money trail,” Padgett said. “But that kind of extraneous evidence is leading them to believe that the attack was generated inside Haiti."

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Andrea Perdomo is a producer for WLRN News.