Four sentenced in Brazil for nightclub fire that left 242 dead and more than 600 injured


A Brazilian court on Friday convicted four men of the fire that occurred on Jan. 27, 2013 in a nightclub in Santa Maria (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) which left 242 dead and 636 injured, mostly young people, they report local media.

The drama erupts in the Kiss nightclub, where a university party was held, when the singer of the musical group Gurizada Fandangueira lit a pyrotechnic device and the sparks hit part of the ceiling, which was covered with sound insulation foam, causing the fire to spread rapidly.

“Immense gravity”

In addition, the fire released poisonous gases that caused several suffocation deaths, while some people lost their lives being trampled in the midst of chaos. The premises fire extinguishers were not working and the premises had no emergency exit.

After ten days of trial, Judge Orlando Faccini Neto sentenced all the defendants to prison. The penalty for Elissandro Spohr, owner of the nightclub, is 22 years and 6 months, while that of his partner Mauro Hoffman stands at 19 years and 6 months. For their part, Marcelo de Jesus dos Santos, singer of the group, and Luciano Bonilha Leão, stage assistant, each received 18 years in prison.

“In a case like this, we have to take into account that we are facing the death of 242 people, a circumstance which, in the orbit of eventual intention, already contains immense gravity,” said the magistrate.

Habeas corpus

Although Faccini determined that they were being held in court, Spohr’s defense sought habeas corpus for his client, which the court accepted, so he could not be arrested. The other three convicted have obtained the same right, which is why they will remain free pending the decision of the higher courts on their respective appeals.

A total of 28 people, some of whom were at the scene on the day of the fire, were present at the trial. “I burned 18% of my body and I lost a foot. I am wearing a prosthesis after everything that has happened, ”explained Kellen Ferrreira, one of the survivors.

This fire was the second most serious in the country in number of victims, after that which occurred in 1961 at the American circus Niteroi, in Rio de Janeiro, where 503 people died, mostly children.

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