Four years since the tragic Colectiv fire, trial still in court, no culprits established yet

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Today four years are marked since the deadly Colectiv fire that claimed 65 lives and left hundreds wounded, with permanent scars from the burns on their skin and in their souls.

65 Romanians died in that tragic event, 27 right in the fire that occurred on the night of 30 October 2015, at Colectiv Club in Bucharest, where the Goodbye to Gravity rock band performed a gig for the release of their latest album. The fire broke out during the concert from some fireworks used in the performance and spread rapidly, resulting in numerous people dead and injured.

The rest up to 65 died later on in hospitals in Romania or abroad, due to the serious burns and some due to the nosocomial infections acquired during the improper conditions of hospitalization in Romania.

The trial regarding the tragedy is still pending in court, no culprits being yet established, so no one has been held responsible so far for the fire and the deaths.

President Klaus Iohannis laid a wreath on Wednesday morning in front of Colectiv Club, in the memory of the tragedy. The head of state has also lit a candle and kept a moment of silence before the improvised altar in front of the club in the memory of the victims.

On the night of 30 to 31 October 2015, 27 people died in the flames and 162 were hospitalised as a result of the Colectiv Club fire.

Later on, 34 injured were transferred to medical clinics in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Norway, Israel and Switzerland, some of them survived, other died in hospital, despite the doctors’ efforts to save them.

Over the next two months, the death toll increased to 63 and, and a 64th victim died on 14 March 2016.  A 65th injured in the fire died one year later, a young man who committed suicide.

Among the victims who lost their lives following the fire were also members of the Goodbye to Gravity band, namely bassist Alex Pascu, drummer Bogdan Lavinius Enache, guitarists Vlad Telea and Mihai Alexandru. The lead singer Andrei Galut was the only one who survived, but he lost his fiancee into the fire.

Prosecutors started an investigation against those three owners of Colectiv Club, namely Alin George Anastasescu, Paul Gancea and Costin Mincu, and they were sent to court, on 28 April 2016, being charged with committing involuntary manslaughter, bodily injury and not taking legal measures in the work safety and health. In the same case, owner of SC Golden Ideas Fireworks Artists SRL fireworks company Daniela Nita was also sent to court, as well as Cristian Nita (director) and Viorel Zaharia (pyrotechnics). Legal entities SC Colectiv Club SRL and SC Golden Ideas Fireworks Artists SRL were also sent to court.

Mayor of District 4 Cristian Popescu-Piedone was also prosecuted in a separate file, being accused that, as a mayor, had signed for the operating permit of the Colectiv club, despite the venue was lacking the necessary conditions.

However, no trial in this case is concluded yet, no final rulings have been pronounced.

As a result of the Colectiv tragedy, on 3 November 2015, several thousand of protesters in Bucharest and in other Romanian cities took to the street in anger, asking for the resignation of PM Victor Ponta, Deputy PM Gabriel Oprea and District 4 mayo, Cristian Popescu Piedone.

The Ponta Government resigned on 4 November 2015 following wide mass protests.

Protesters’ main slogans were “The Day We Give In is the Day We Die”, taken over from one of the Goodbye to Gravity’s hits, delivering the message that people should never give in to corruption and injustice, and “Corruption Kills”.

Memorial march

In Bucharest, Arad, Constanța, Galați and other cities, thousands have marched in silence to commemorate the victims. 1,500 took to the streets in Bucharest to mark the moment, despite the rain and cold weather, while the venue of the former Colectiv nightclub became a pilgrimage place, where people lit candles and brought wreaths of flowers in the memory of the dead. Families and friends of the victims asked for Raed Arafat’s resignation the Head of the Department for Emergency Situations, who coordinated the actions of the task force after the fire.

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