Former Bucharest District 4 mayor sentenced to 8 and a half years in jail in the Colectiv club fire case
The former mayor of Bucharest’s District 4, Cristian Popescu Piedone, was sentenced to eight and a half years in jail in the Colectiv club fire case. The case is related to a club in Bucharest (Colectiv) that burned down during a rock concert, on October 30, 2015, which led to 64 deaths and over 100 people injured. The Colectiv club fire is considered the biggest tragedy in Romania in the last 30 years.
The club was allowed to operate without a fire safety permit, which is why the District 4 mayor was considered partly responsible for the tragedy. Three other employees of the District 4 City Hall also received jail sentences between three years and eight years in this case, according to Mediafax.
Two firefighters, who had inspected the club a few weeks before the tragedy and allowed it to continue functioning without a fire safety permit, were also sentenced to nine years and two months in jail, each.
The three owners of the firm that operated the Colectiv club, George Anastasescu, Costin Mincu and Paul Gancea, received sentences of 11 years and 8 months of jail time each.
The harshest sentence, of 12 years and 8 months in jail, was ruled against the administrator of the firm that installed the fireworks that caused the fire, Daniela Nita, while the two operators who installed the fireworks received ten years each. The owner of the firm that provided the fireworks was also sentenced to three and a half years in jail.
The sentences ruled by the Bucharest Court are not final and the defendants can file appeals at the Bucharest Court of Appeal.
The Bucharest Court also ruled that the company that operated the Colectiv club and the firm that organized the fireworks should pay criminal fines worth RON 2.35 million (EUR 490,000) each. It also awarded material and moral damages worth millions of euro to the victims and their families, to be paid by the defendants. Moreover, the defendants will also have to cover the expenses for several hospitals in Bucharest involved in treating the Colectiv club fire victims.
Context: The Colectiv club in Bucharest, which functioned on the premises of the former Pionierul factory, burned down during a concert of local rock band Goodbye to Gravity on October 30, 2015. There were hundreds of people in the club that night, way more than its normal capacity.
The fire was caused by the fireworks used inside the club during the concert. The soundproofing insulation was not fireproof as well, so it caught fire generating hot toxic gases that burned the lungs of those who inhaled the smoke. The club had no fire exits and its only fire extinguisher didn't work, the investigator found.
26 people died in the club that night and even more died in the following weeks in the hospitals due to the internal injuries and, in some cases, due to hospital infections. The total death toll was 64.
The tragedy sparked a series of street protests in Bucharest and the country under the slogan #CoruptiaUcide (Corruption Kills). Prime minister Victor Ponta resigned amid the protests.
A video recording of the emergency crews' intervention on that night, made public four years after the tragedy, showed an uncoordinated response and chaos, as the rescuers were overwhelmed by the situation. Another investigation, this time centered on the rescue intervention, started after the video was released.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos)