A Russian court handed down long prison sentences to executives and fire safety officers accused of hell in a recreation center that killed 60 people.
The fire invaded the top floor of the Winter Cherry shopping center in March 2018, in the Siberian city of Kemerovo.
The cause was a short circuit in the lighting of a children’s play area and 37 of those killed were children.
Eight people were sentenced to prison terms on Friday. Three other criminal proceedings regarding the fire remain pending.
The investigation concluded that Yulia Bogdanova, former CEO of the company that owns the mall, and other managers had violated the recreation center’s fire safety regulations.
Bogdanova received a 14-year prison sentence while Nadezhda Suddenok, CEO of the Winter Cherry company that ran the mall, was 13 and a half years old.
Six others were also jailed for the disaster, including:
- Georgy Sobolev, technical director of the Kemerovo Confectionery Combine (KKK), which owns the complex, which is 11 years old
- Sergei Antyushin, Winter Cherry security manager – eight years old
- Igor Polozinenko, head of the company that served the Winter Cherry fire alarm – six and a half years.
Prosecutors said Bogdanova ignored fire safety rules to save money. Suddenok and Sobolev helped her with this cover-up.
Polozinenko knew about the security flaws and asked Bogdanova to pay for the improvements, but she refused, prosecutors said. Polozinenko therefore did not report this negligence to any official who could have acted accordingly.
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Bogdanova, Suddenok, Sobolev and Polozinenko admitted partial blame for the disaster. Their lawyers are appealing the sentences, reports the Tass news agency.
Prosecutors said security chief Antyushin saw the fire break out, via CCTV, but turned off the fire alarm and failed to rescue people trapped behind exits he knew were locked.
Many of those who died were stuck in a movie theater and quickly overwhelmed by smoke.
- Fire at the Russian shopping center
- fire prevention
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