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New judge takes over Colectiv case. First 25 witnesses to be heard at the next hearing

Judge Mihai Bălănescu has been assigned to take over Colectiv case on Tuesday after the magistrate who took care of the case until August, Mihail Terceanu had retired.

The first 25 witnesses will be heard at the next hearing, while the new judge has also Okayed the defenders’ requests that the evidence in the file should be re-administered. However, the defendants will not be heard again.

The three former owners of the Colectiv nightclub had given statements before the retired judge and their statements will be taken into account also by the new judge.

However, the defenders have challenged the witness evidence conducted during the criminal prosecution, and also the results of the expertize reports, and they asked the evidence should be re-administered.

The lawyer of one of the owners, Alin Anastasescu, argued he has new evidence and witnesses: the employees who took part in the preparation of the concert hall.

As for the former District 4 mayor, Cristian Popescu Piedone, also investigated in this case for Okaying the operating permit of the Colectiv club, refused to give new statements in the hearing on Monday. „I cannot give any statement, I am not ready,” he said.

Another defender asked for a larger court room to judge the file, proposing Sala Palatului for that. Yet, the judge said there is no court room hosting 400 seats in Romania, but promised to do everything he can to solve this issue.

The next court hearing has been set on November 9.

The representatives of the victims of the Colectiv fire have repeatedly accused the file is being delayed. Prosecutors of the General Prosecutor’s Office sent the file to court on April 28, 2016.

The ‘Colectiv’ nightclub conflagration claimed 64 lives and left more than 140 injured.

The Colectiv club was located on 7, Tabacarilor Street in District 4 in the Capital. A fire burst on the night of October 30, 2015 during a concert performed by “Goodbye to Gravity” band. The local rock band was launching their latest album. The fire was caused by some fireworks scheduled in the show and has rapidly expanded due to the inflammable material of the club’s walls. The numerous people attending the show practically crowded to get out of the club, but many remained trapped inside and burnt to death. There were hundreds of people in there and only one exit way. Moreover, there were several fire extinguishers that were out of service. Four of the band’s members died in the fire, whereas the vocalist was severely injured.

Next Tuesday, October 30, 3 years will be commemorated since the tragedy.

 

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