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November 30, 2022

The Colectiv fire, 7 years on: Victims of the tragedy were commemorated on Sunday in Bucharest

The victims of the October 30, 2015 fire at Colectiv Club in Bucharest were commemorated, on Sunday, in front of the club, by more than 120 people who lit candles and laid flowers next to pictures with the story of those who lost their lives, in an event organized by Geeks For Democracy, Corruption Kills and Romania Initiative.

Survivors of the Colectiv tragedy were among those present at the demonstration.

Afterwards, the participants went to the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice   to warn that the investigation did not go far enough and that not all those guilty are paying for their actions. The representatives of the NGOs and the victims’ families left in front of Prosecutor General’s Office the pictures and stories of those who died in the tragedy.

“We are commemorating 7 years since the incident at Colectiv and at the same time this is also a manifesto through which we must not forget that some young people went to a club on a Friday night with their friends and were killed by the bureaucracy, by the corruption in Romania and the Romanian medical system (…) Subsequently, 7 years later, things are the same. (…) The Colectiv case has not been resolved with the the convictions of April-May this year, (…) there are more case files,” declared the president of the Geeks for Democracy Association, Marian Raduna, according to Radio Romania International.

He drew attention to the fact that this tragedy can happen at any time in Romania.

“We are raising an alarm that we need to be safe not only in hospitals, not only in clubs, but anywhere, and if we are not safe, and nobody does their job, it is the job of the prosecutor’s office,” added Marian Raduna.

Angi Serban, vice-president of Coruptia Ucide / Corruption Kills organisation, said that this commemoration aims to prevent a tragedy of this kind from happening again.

“The reason why we still come out to commemorate is so that we don’t forget what happened and that the political decision-makers don’t forget either and that a tragedy like this doesn’t happen again. (…) Our organization also demands fire protection legislation (…) We want the guilty to be punished, because from our point of view only half the job has been done, the big political decision-makers were not punished, apart from (then Bucharest’s District 4 mayor, ed. n.) Piedone (…) many others are alive and well, including heads of hospitals and so on,” explained Angi Serban, according to Agerpres.

In her turn, Diana Voicu, president of Initiativa Romania / Romania Initiative, considers that the victims from Colectiv are “symbols”, the reason why entire generations have created civic movements.

“We are 7 years from the Colectiv only with case files that are not solved,” Diana Voicu said.

The representatives of the NGOs and the victims’ families say attempts were made to distract the public from the fact that the state of hospitals and the decisions made by the authorities were responsible for more victims than the fire itself. They also say that the problem of the healthcare system, of the beds and hospitals for fire victims and of infections acquired by patients in hospital care is far from being solved. Moreover, public spaces, including schools, are still allowed to remain open despite not ensuring protection against fire and emergency situations. Healthcare minister Alexandru Rafila said including cases of hospital-acquired infections when assessing the activity of hospital managers will help shed more light on the situation of the healthcare system. He said such infections occur not only in Romania, but admitted that their frequency here is much higher compared with other countries.

It took six years and a half for the courts to issue final sentences in the Colectiv case and for those responsible for the biggest peace-time tragedy in Romania to end up behind bars. Cristian Popescu Piedone, the former mayor of Bucharest’s sector 4 and who in the meantime had been elected mayor of sector 5, was sentenced to 4 years in prison for abuse of office. The club owners received between 6 and 11 years and 8 months. On trial in this case were also the two members of the fire service of the Bucharest Inspectorate for Emergency Situations who made checks at the nightclub but who did not take the legal measures with respect to fire protection. They were sentenced to 8 years and 8 months in prison. The firework technicians on trial were sentenced to 6 years and 10 months each. The final sentences were generally shorter than those issued in the courts of first instance. The Court of Appeal ruled that some of those convicted should pay damages of tens of millions of euros to the survivors and the victims’ families.

There was also a political consequence in the immediate aftermath of the fire: the large street protests under the slogan Corruption Kills held at the time led to the resignation of the then government. This was, however, not enough to move things decisively onto the path of normality that implies efficiency and honesty in the administration.


Photo: Facebook/Angi Serban

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