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April 11, 2021

Court orders start of merit trial of Former Mayor Popescu-Piedone for deadly nightclub fire

The Bucharest Tribunal has overruled all the requests and exceptions filed by former Bucharest District 4 Mayor Cristian Popescu-Piedone, ordering the opening of a merit trial related to the Colectiv nightclub fire of October 30, 2015.

On May 6, prosecutors with the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) sent to court former Bucharest District 4 Mayor Cristian Popescu-Piedone over a 2015 deadly fire at Colectiv club, known as the Colectiv case. He was standing accused of two counts of abuse of office and obtaining ill-gotten gains for self or others to the detriment of the legitimate interests of individuals and Bucharest District 4.

Also sent to court in the same case were three mayoral employees at the time for being accomplices to abuse of office and obtaining ill-gotten gains for self or others to the detriment of the legitimate interests of individuals and Bucharest District 4, namely Aurelia Iofciu, head of Commercial Authorisation Service; as well as Larisa Luminita Ganea and Ramona Sandra Motoc, both high-ranking officeholders at the same service.

In a press statement released the same day, DNA says the criminal offence of abuse of office regarding the committer and accomplices was committed by issuing permits and business authorisations to two commercial companies in violation of the legal fire protection requirements in force, including failure to inspect the premises after the authorisations were issued.

DNA claims that the mayor and the employees of the commercial authorisation service had exclusive jurisdiction over the permits and business authorisations for commercial companies operated as bars, clubs or restaurants.

By authorising the operation of Colectiv Club SRL without fire safety certification, Piedone, with the aid of defendants Iofciu and Ganea, generated ill-gotten gains for the company in excess of 62,000 lei while putting the life, health and bodily integrity of the patrons in unmitigated danger, January – October 30, 2015, by accepting operation in the absence of technical measures to prevent or contain fires.

“For moral and material damage sustained during and after the October 30, 2015 tragedy at Colectiv, November 2015 – April 2016, 90 claimants became civil parties in the lawsuit, 27 of whom have sustained wounds or burns from the fire, while 63 are heirs/successors to people killed by the fire. The sued for between 30,000 euros and 2,000,000 euros,” according to DNA.

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