A Russian court has imposed years of prison sentences on eight people held responsible for a major fire in a shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo. Sixty people were killed in 2018, including 37 children.
The highest penalty is for the administrator of the building that the mall was part of. She has been sentenced to fourteen years of criminal camp for negligence. The penalties for those responsible, including a security guard and a leader of the local fire department, range from five to more than thirteen years in prison.
The fire was caused by a short circuit in an indoor playground. Because the fire alarm did not work, visitors to an indoor cinema did not know what was happening outside the room. When the fire had spread through the building, they couldn‘t go any more.
Shortly after the mall fire it turned out that safety measures were failing. For example, emergency exits were not accessible and many walls were covered with plastic. The alarm system was also switched off. According to the researchers, the mall’s leadership deliberately put fire safety requirements aside, in order to generate more profit.
The fire department spent hours extinguishing the fire:
The fire led to great anger among Kemerovo residents in 2018. President Putin spoke of criminal negligence. The governor of the Kemerovo region stepped down after the fire.
It is expected that the Russian justice will launch another investigation to investigate the authorities that have approved the fire safety of the complex. Also, the State Office of Construction Surveillance would have taken bribes to turn a blind eye during the inspection. A businessman involved fled the country shortly after the fire. Last year he was arrested in Poland and extradited to Russia.