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September 20, 2021

Colectiv nightclub tragedy:Witnesses to be heard by Capital Police

Witnesses of Colectiv Club fire will be heard by the Capital Police on Monday, after the prosecutors have instructed such a measure.

The Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice took over an inquiry into Friday’s night fire from Bucharest Prosecutor’s Office.

General Prosecutor’s Office starts inquiry for murder in the first degree

The investigation in the case of Friday evening fire in Bucharest club Colectiv, that resulted in 30 deaths and 146 injured, was overtaken by the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (PICCJ) and investigators are due to decide who was guilty for this tragedy. Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu declared on Saturday that the inquiry targets first – degree murder which has “a serious punishment”.

The National Institute of Forensic Medicine “Mina Minovici” a announced on Sunday that all 30 persons who passed away in the Friday night fire in Club Colectiv were identified and the first autopsies have started.
Prosecutors collected proof on Saturday to establish the circumstances of the fire in Colectiv, examined and identified the lifeless bodies of victims and checked the hospitalized ones, establishing which of them were fit for a hearing, a press release issued by the Prosecutors’ Office announced.

PICCJ also reported that the an initial stage of on-scene investigation was completed on Saturday by a team that included representatives of the Criminal and Homicide Department of PICCJ, of the Homicide Investigation Service of the Municipality of Bucharest General Police Department, of the National Homicide Institute from the General Inspectorate of Romanian Police, the Homicide Service of DGPMB, as well as specialists of the National Institute of Homicide Expertise and INSEMEX Petrosani.

During conducted activities, goods were seized as proof, in order to be used for accurate comprehension of circumstances that have led to the event of October 30, 2015. Activities of examination and identification of the persons who had passed away and were kept at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine (INML) were completed. Checking was performed on persons receiving treatment in hospital units, establishing which of them are in proper health for a hearing”, PICCJ mentioned.

Nitu: The investigation in the case of the club fire is for murder in the first degree, that carries a consistent conviction.

Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu declared on Saturday, in front of Club Colectiv in Bucharest, the scene of the Friday night fire that resulted in 27 dead and approximately 200 injured that the investigation concerned murder in the first degree, that carries “a serious punishment”.

Tiberiu Nitu also declared that all required resources will be granted and transmitted condolences to the mourning families.
In a statement made afterwards at the scene, Nitu revealed that the “inside of the club looks depressing, that everything is carbonized, black and covered in grime”, adding though that the officers of the High Court Prosecutors’ Office who have overtaken the inquiry in this case are prepared to collect all required evidence from the inside of the club.

“Proof can be collected, homicide specialists are prepared and know how to collect proof and are familiar to these situations. (…) We are talking about starting an inquiry on this crime. At the time we will be able to order the start of an inquiry referring to certain persons, all elements will be established, as well as the subjective position of the persons that will be established as subjects of the inquiry and charged in trial. I do not want to say at this time that someone will be accused of murder in the first degree or manslaughter”, Nitu also declared.

On the other hand, a prosecutor accompanying Tiberiu Nitu declared that “all searches were completed in the spaces outside the building, where several goods and other physical objects were collected in order to be evaluated as proof”.
“The unit stocking footage by the surveillance cameras was seized. It is due to be evaluated, and the images will undoubtedly be used for investigation”, the prosecutor mentioned.

A press release issued by the Prosecutors’ Office announced that the on-scene investigation activities were continued on Sunday, as well as autopsies ordered by the prosecutor and hearings by witnesses and persons who might be familiar about the circumstances and the manner of evolution of the tragic event.
The latest reports concerning the Friday night fire in Colectiv Club show that 27 have died and other 146 persons are still under treatment in Bucharest hospitals.
On Friday evening, Club Colectiv was hosting a concert by the band “Goodbye to Gravity”, promoting their newly launched album, “Mantras of war”. Among the 27 deceased, there are two of the members of the bands, guitarists Vlad Telea and Mihai Alexandru.

Witnesses in the club declared that the fire was caused by the fireworks launched during the performance, as the isolation sponge on a column of the building caught fire and afterwards the fire extended to the ceiling. Pieces of the ceiling, that was also covered with isolation sponge fell off and reached parts of the audience.

According to people at the show, a guardian grabbed a fire extinguisher, but he was unable to intervene before the fire reached the roof and expanded in an instant. At the time the ceiling caught fire, the 250 – 300 persons in the club were overcome by panic and rushed towards the exits, creating a jam, because only one of the exit doors opened after the building caught fire.
Afterwards, the second door was opened as well and people rushed outside, but there were many persons on the floor with severe burning injuries or under cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. The witnesses also revealed that there was a thick, smothering smoke that has gathered in the club and was coming out in waves on the exit door.

The representative of the company that completed the isolation works at Club Colectiv declared that the owners of the location have refused to buy fireproof material because it was too expensive. The representative pointed out that such works are usually completed based on a draft made by an architect and firefighters which, in this case, was not submitted.
He mentioned that the entire ceiling was covered by the same material, which was heat proof, but was not fireproof.
“Afterwards, they placed on the columns (the same kind of material as on the ceiling, editor’s note); we do not know where they bought it. I saw some of it. It is isolated at level F, which means it resists to heat – engines, warming devices, not to fire. And the version isolated at level RF was deemed too expensive”, he added, mentioning that the fireproof material was 35 per cent more costly.

Bucharest mayor on the authorisation of Colectiv Club: Not within our competence

Bucharest Mayor Ștefănel Dan Marin said, regarding the Colectiv Club fire, that the authorisation of such places was not within the competence of the Bucharest Municipality, but the competence of district local administrations.

We do not authorise such places because it does not fall within our competence. The permits for the operation of such companies are issued by the district municipalities. The Bucharest Municipality, through the Local Police and Control Directorate, has the right to check the building permits. Of course, also these places’, Stefanel Marin said.

Asked if he could check what inspections had been done so far, as the Local Police did find that the club was missing just a landline, Stefanel Marin answered that he could check, but, if the opposition was to be found, the District 4 Municipality should give the answers.

‘I can order a check if my Local Police Directorate conducted the inspection’,, he said.
The general mayor added that, upon the request of the families of the dead, graves would be provided for the victims in the cemeteries in all six Bucharest districts.

Mayor Piedone approved operation of Colectiv club: ‘They fulfilled legal requirements’

District 4 Mayor Cristian Popescu Piedone says the permit for the operation of the Colectiv club where 27 people lost their lives and 184 were injured in a fire Friday night had been issued because all legal requirements had been fulfilled.

‘The Local Police Law says we need to have the tenant’s consent, the lease agreement, the ownership deed and the identification information from the Trade Register in order to issue the operating permit.

The tenant gives an affidavit on the activity that is to be conducted there. The operating permit sums up all permits from all institutions. We fulfilled al legal requirements for issuing the operating permit’, Mayor Cristian Popescu Piedone said Saturday morning.

The mayor of Bucharest District 4 also noted that, in his opinion, the declarations should be abrogated and the legislation should change for places hosting over 100 persons.

Sunday morning, the District 4 Municipality noted that its inspectors had conducted a thematic check to the Colectiv Club on 21 October 2015 and they found that the company had valid operating permit and the tenancy agreement, but applied a fine because ‘the company was providing catering services using staff that was not qualified in the food industry’.

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