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Thirteen convicted over 2015 Bucharest nightclub fire

By | Published on Tuesday 17 December 2019

Goodbye To Gravity

Thirteen people have been given prison sentences and hefty fines after being convicted of negligence in relation to the fire that occurred at the Bucharest nightclub Colectiv in 2015. A total of 64 people were killed as a result of the blaze with many more injured.

Among those convicted are people who were involved in the pyrotechnics show that caused the fire, as well as various local politicians, including the man who directly approved the nightclub’s licence.

The fire in the 700 capacity venue started when fireworks were set off as part of a performance by metalcore band Goodbye To Gravity. Those pyros set light to flammable materials that had been used for soundproofing in the venue.

27 people were killed in the fire itself, while 37 more died later in hospital. At least thirteen of the latter group, it later emerged, actually died as a result of infections that they developed while receiving hospital treatment. It’s thought that was the result of disinfectant being used by the hospitals having been diluted by the manufacturer in order to boost profits.

Among those who died were four of the five members of Goodbye To Gravity. In addition to the fatalities, just under 150 people were also treated for injuries that were sustained as people attempted to escape the building.

Amid accusations that local authorities had taken bribes to turn a blind eye to not only the unsafe soundproofing but also the lack of appropriate fire exits in the Colectiv building, people took to the streets in mass protests around the country shortly after the tragedy.

This led to a massive upheaval in the Romanian political system, including the resignation of the country’s Prime Minister, Victor Ponta. However, there was subsequently much criticism that no one had been convicted of any crime in relation to the fire.

That has now changed, with these thirteen convictions adding up to more than 100 years of jail time. Those convicted include the three owners of Colectiv – Alin Anastasescu, Costin Mincu and Paul-Cătălin Gancea (who each receive prison sentences of eleven years and eight months) – and the two owners of the company that provided the fireworks – Daniela Niţă (twelve years and eight months) and Cristian Niţă (three and a half years).

Also jailed are the two people who ran the pyrotechnics show Viorel Zaharia (nine years eight months) and Marian Moise (ten years); the former mayor of Bucharest’s sector four municipality, Cristian Popescu Piedone (eight and a half years); three other local politicians (between three and eight years); and two fire fighters (nine years and two months each).

As well as the prison sentences, those convicted have also been ordered to pay compensation to people who survived the fire and the families of those who died, totalling 50 million euros. The highest individual fine is 900,000 euros.

A documentary about the fire and its aftermath, titled ‘Colectiv’, has screened at a number of film festivals this year and was shown in Romanian cinemas last month.

The thirteen people convicted over their involvement in the fire this week are all expected to appeal their sentences.