The first sentence in the Colectiv trial is expected next Monday.
On the 30th of October
this year, Romania commemorated four years since its biggest tragedy in times
of peace: 64 people, mostly young people, were killed and 200 injured, one also
committing suicide later, in a fire that broke out during a concert at the
Colectiv nightclub, which was located in a former factory in Bucharest.
The fire was caused by fireworks lit
up during the concert. The sparks touched the foam covering the pillars and
walls of the overcrowded club, which only had one exit door. The fire lasted
153 seconds, but it was enough for some spectators to die at the site and for
others to stampede and to get hurt by the flames and the smoke on their way
For two years, the trial that began
in the wake of the tragedy was blocked for procedural reasons, but the judge
initially appointed to handle the case eventually retired and was replaced by
another in October 2018. The latter promised to bring the case to an end and
began holding hearings with dozens of witnesses and victims on a weekly basis.
The hearings came to an end on Monday, and the first sentence is expected next
Monday, on the 9th of December. The decision of the Bucharest
Tribunal judge will not, however, be final.
In any case, prosecutors called for
tough sentences of up to 15 years in prison for all those indicted, namely two
employees of the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations accused of allowing the
club to function despite knowing it did not have a fire licence; the former
mayor of the Bucharest sector in which the club was located, Cristian Popescu
Piedone, and three employees under him for abuse of office and complicity to
abuse of office; the three owners of the club for aggravated manslaughter,
serious bodily harm and failure to take the obligatory safety and work
measures; as well as the workers who set up the fireworks and their employer.
Moreover, the civil part in the trial, namely the families of the dead and the
injured, have also demanded huge compensations to the amount of millions of
euros. None of those accused has pleaded guilty, asking instead to be
Politically speaking, the price for
what happened at Colectiv on the 30th of October 2015 was already
paid when the government led at the time by the Social Democrat Victor Ponta
resigned after pressure from tens of thousands of protesters chanting a
slogan that has endured: "Corruption kills". Even so, a survivor of the
tragedy four years ago said after the hearings on Monday that someone else
should also be on trial, namely the Romanian state. "Things didn't function as
they should have and people died as a result, so it's the entire system represented
by the Romanian state that should be on trial", he said.