Three years since a fire killed 242 people at Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, the liabilities in the case, the punishment, and the damages to be awarded to the families of the young dead and surviving victims remain to be seen. On the night of January 27th, 2013, a fire at the club, set off when the band performing on stage ignited a pyrotechnic device, killed hundreds of young people, most of them under 25.
Firemen punished, but still at liberty
So far, the cases that have moved closest to resolution were those filed against the firefighters implicated in the case. Last December, the Military Court of Rio Grande do Sul harshened the sentences handed down to Moisés Fuchs and Alex Camilo, who had been convicted by the Court of Santa Maria. They also overturned the acquittal of Daniel da Silva Adriano, changing it to a jail sentence of two years and six months.
Fuchs was the Fire Chief in Santa Maria and was at first sentenced to one year in prison, but his jail term was increased to four years and five months. He was charged with neglecting his duties by not punishing a subordinate fireman who ran a fire prevention company that had been a contractor with Kiss nightclub, in violation of the Fire Department regulations. In addition, as a fire chief, he was accountable for the club's fire safety permit.
Daniel Adriano was convicted for issuing the first permit for the club to operate in 2009, and Alex Camilo for issuing the second in 2011. In both cases, the Court held that the permits should not have been issued, since the place posed risks—there were no fire response plans, escape routes, exit signs, or emergency exits and windows for ventilation.
The convictions and harsher sentences handed down to the three military officers do not mean punishment yet. The firemen can file further motions with the Military Court and appeal to the Superior Court. They remain at liberty.
Club owners and band members untried
The criminal cases are at even earlier stages. The owners of Kiss nightclub, Eissandro Callegaro Spohr and Mauro Londero Hoffmann, and Luciano Augusto Bonilha Leão and Marcelo de Jesus dos Santos, the two members of Gurizada Fandangueira band who used the pyrotechnic device that set off the fire, face charges of aggravated murder with a base motive.
The case has completed its evidentiary stage, and as of January 21st this year, the prosecution has 30 days and the defense has 60 days to present their closing arguments. After that, the judge will decide between the following: submitting the case to a jury; ruling that there has been no felony or evidence of liability; acquitting the defendant; or ruling that the felony is not triable by jury.
A class suit for damages has also been filed by the Association of the Victims of the Santa Maria Disaster and the Rio Grande do Sul Public Defender's Office pending before the local judicial district. Hundreds of individual lawsuits filed by people affected by the disaster are also pending a court decision.
So far, however, the relatives of the victims and surviving victims have not been supported in any way by any of the parties charged with causing the fire, according to Sérgio da Silva, chair of the association. He reported that the organization helps them obtain medical and psychological care from the public health care system and has negotiated a deal with a drugstore chain to buy certain medicines at lower prices. “I've been on medication, like most of the other parents here, and we've had to pay for them ourselves,” said Silva, who lost a 20-year-old son in the fire.
“We've been completely left to ourselves, there's no support. Some [of the parents and victims] are just gone, others are seeking help and taking anti-depressives. A mother who used to help us in the association has died recently. She had lost her two teenage children in the fire and fell into depression. She got ill and died within seven days—she just gave up hope,” he reported.
After three years waiting, the victims' association leader said he is still skeptical about the outcome of the court case. “I'll just die before I get the chance to see any of it,” said Silva, who faces the threat of being convicted for defamation first, because of a lawsuit filed by Ricardo Lozza, a prosecutor in the case.
Sérgio da Silva and other leaders of associations linked to the tragedy's victims are accused of spreading posters all around the city accusing Lozza of non-feasance after they refused to agree to a draft deal presented by the Public Prosecution Office.
Translated by Amarílis Anchieta / Mayra Borges
Fonte: Three years since Kiss nightclub fire, no one jailed nor liabilities settled