MISE & Agrave; DAY
PORTO ALEGRE | & nbsp; The trial over the nightclub fire that left 242 people dead in Brazil, mostly young people, opened on Wednesday with moving testimonies in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, almost nine years after the disaster.
Survivors and relatives of the victims continue to demand justice after the tragedy that took place at dawn on January 27, 2013 in the nightclub Kiss of the city of Santa Maria, one of the worst fires in Brazil.
Four defendants appear before the Porto Alegre court: two entrepreneurs and two musicians from the group that played that evening, prosecuted for the homicide of 242 people and attempted homicide of 636 others, the wounded, before a popular jury.
“I am not a murderer!” exclaimed as he entered the court Luciano Bonilha Leao, 44, one of the accused and one of the two musicians, who had to be taken into care by medical staff.
Luciano Bonilha Leao
That night, during a college party, a member of the group of musicians lit a pyrotechnic device normally reserved outside, which set the synthetic coating on the ceiling of the nightclub ablaze, trapping a thousand young people.
Many of them died charred or suffocated by toxic fumes as the room turned into a blaze. The two musicians had escaped the disco in time without warning the young audience, although they had a sound system.
The investigation showed that the extinguishers were not working, that the signage was faulty and that only two doors allowed the evacuation of the crowd.
Judge Orlando Faccini Neto and a jury of seven members are to hear testimony from 14 survivors and 19 other witnesses, as well as the four accused, the court said.
“I did not want to die”
This trial, considered historic for Brazilian justice, is broadcast live and should last two weeks.
The first of the three witnesses to be heard on the first day was Katia Giane Pacheco Siquera, ex-employee of Kiss.
“I screamed that I didn't want to die,” she said crying, remembering the 21 days spent in hospital, her body 40% burnt, according to images posted on the court's YouTube channel.
According to her, the policy of the management of the disco was limited to: “The more people inside, the better”.
Elissandro Callegaro Spohr, 38, and Mauro Londero Hoffmann, 56, two associates of the Kiss nightclub, are accused by the public prosecutor of having exceeded the tonnage of the premises, without providing for evacuation and fire safety conditions, and for using a “highly flammable” material as a coating, according to the Court of Justice of Rio Grande do Sul.
Elissandro Callegaro Spohr
Mauro Londero Hoffmann
Another survivor, Kellen Ferreira, whose right leg was amputated and suffered burns that left scars on her arms, testified: “The last time I ran it was to try to 'escape death'.
The four defendants were remanded in custody after the disaster before being released a few months later.
The trial was disoriented, the justice having decided in 2020 to organize it far from Santa Maria to guarantee the impartiality of the debates.
The Association of Relatives of the Victims and Survivors of Santa Maria raised funds on social networks for to go to Porto Alegre, 300 km away, to attend this eagerly awaited trial.
“No one intended to kill (…) but after all this time it is very clear with all the information of the proceedings that the owners (of Kiss) and the members of the group have committed crimes with premeditation, ”said Paulo Carvalho, father of Rafa el, died in the nightclub and member of the Association of Relatives of Victims and Survivors of Santa Maria.