Mayor and owners jailed for deadly Romanian nightclub fire

A Bucharest court on Thursday handed prison sentences to a mayor of a capital district and the owners of a nightclub where a 2015 fire killed 65 people in what has become a symbol of corruption in Romania.

The Colectiv fire has sparked nationwide street protests against systemic corruption that has undermined public administration and basic services despite prosecutors’ extensive efforts to tackle abuses in the state of European Union. The protests, under the banner “Corruption Kills”, led to the resignation of the then leftist government.

The fire broke out when fireworks set off at a concert by a rock band ignited non-fireproof foam insulation, triggering a stampede towards the single-door exit. Prosecutors said the club’s owners allowed more revelers than its capacity and Bucharest officials granted it a license to operate while security inspectors allowed it to open despite knowing that didn’t have a fire safety permit.

The Bucharest Court of Appeal sentenced all those involved to prison terms, including Cristian Popescu Piedone, the mayor of one of the six districts of the capital Bucharest, and ordered the institutions involved to pay millions of euros in damages to the families of the victims. The decision is final.

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Helen D. Jessen