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Court adjourns hearings in Perm nightclub fire case

October 31, 2011, 11:47 UTC+3
Last week, the court meeting was also postponed due to Zak’s urgent hospitalisation from the courtroom
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PERM, October 31 (Itar-Tass) — The Leninsky District Court of Perm has adjourned hearings in the case of the Lame Horse nightclub fire scheduled for Monday due to the illness of the main defendant - factual owner of the club Anatoly Zak.

Judge Dmitry Vyatkin on Monday read a certificate from the Perm regional clinical hospital, stating that Anatoly Zak from October 26 and presently is undergoing treatment there and “cannot now be present at the court hearing.” The judge added that it is planned to discharged Zak from hospital on Monday and transfer him to the pre-trial detention facility. However, because of the absence of the defendant the court adjourned the hearing until November 1.

Last week, the court meeting was also postponed due to Zak’s urgent hospitalisation from the courtroom.

Earlier, the Leninsky District Court of Perm was deciding on the release of Anatoly Zak or keeping him in custody. This was so because doctors have found out that Zack has a number of serious ailments. Despite this, surgeon Yuri Gusarev who examined Zak said during questioning that there is no severe form of Zak’s ailment in medical classification, the complications were registered in 2010, and they were then removed by surgery. The doctor also said that Zak needed elective surgery, however, “there is no reason to speed up the process, since there are no complications, Zak does not need immediate hospitalisation.” So, the judge refused to release Zak on bail.

The case of the Lame Horse nightclub fire that killed 156 people, is considered by the Leninsky District Court of Perm. The trial began on October 4, 2010. There are 404 affected in the Lame Horse case.

The fire in the club occurred on the night of December 5, 2009. It was established that the fire was caused by the use of pyrotechnics in fire hazardous conditions. The quick fire spreading, mass death and injuries among the people were caused by violations of fire safety rules and construction standards.

The defendants in the case are factual owner of the cafe Anatoly Zak, unofficial executive director Svetlana Yefremova and artistic director Oleg Fetkulov who are charged under the RF Criminal Code article “provision within an organised group of services that do not meet the requirements of the consumers’ life and health safety that resulted in serious bodily injury and death of people though negligence.” The father and son Igor and Sergei Derbenevs who organised the fireworks show are charged with violation of the rules fireworks use that resulted in the infliction of grievous bodily harm and death by negligence.

In early September last year, it became known that another person involved in the case - co-owner of Lame Horse Konstantin Mrykhin was detained in Spain. This September, Konstantin Mrykhin was transferred to the Perm Territory where he is currently kept in a pre-trial detention centre.

The formal investigation was completed on June 4, 2010 with indictments issued against Zak, Yefremova, Fetkulov, Sergei Derbenev, his son Igor Derbenev (who allegedly lit the fireworks) and Mukhutdinov. Also indicted were fire inspectors Dmitry Roslyakov and Natalya Prokopyeva (negligence of duty, article 293, part 3). The indictment for Zak, Yefremova and Fetkulov was reclassified from Article 219, part 3 to Article 238, part 3 (“production, storage, transportation or sale of goods, or providing a service without following safety regulations which led to death of 2 or more people,” maximum sentence of 10 years). Zak was also indicted for tax evasion (article 198, part 2, maximum sentence of 3 years), that indictment can be removed if he pays back the taxes owed and penalties. Mukhutdinov was indicted for two counts of “misuse of authority” (article 285, maximum sentence of 10 years). The second count was added after the investigators found a 5,000-rubles gift certificate from one of the local alcohol shops in his office. He allegedly issued the permit to the store in question even though it did not fit the fire safety regulations. Another accused, Konstantin Mrykhin, was not in custody at the time and international arrest warrant was issued for him (he allegedly was another co-owner of the club, and was indicted on the same counts as Zak, Yefremova and Fatkulov). Mrykhin was arrested on August 31, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.

The trial for the other indicted began on September 20, 2010. As many as 304 people who were injured and relatives of the people who died filed civil suits against the accused for a total of about 2.5 billion roubles (approximately US$83,000,000). Zak claimed he is innocent as he was only a passive investor in the club, and club affairs were managed by Titlyanov. Igor Derbenev petitioned the court to excuse him from appearing in the courtroom due to health problems caused by the injuries he suffered in the fire, but that petition was denied after a medical examination. The trial had to be postponed several times, as accused had to change the lawyers representing them and one of the lawyers was hospitalised to give birth. Court was adjourned until January 25, 2011 as Zak was hospitalised and operated on (part of his large intestine had to be removed), and even though it was unclear how long Zak’s recuperation will take, prosecution said it is impossible to transfer Zak’s indictment into a separate case at this stage of the trial. The judge decided to continue the trial after Zak’s condition was reported to be satisfactory for him to appear in the courtroom. However, later the same day Zak had to be taken to the hospital again and the hearings were postponed again. Zak was once more reported by the doctors to be fit enough to participate in the trial on 27 January, but this time Igor Derbenev asked to have his mental health evaluated by psychiatrists as he claims he might have a mental disorder and be not guilty by reason of insanity. Derbenev was judged mentally competent after a psychiatric evaluation. Derbenev and Roslyakov were released on their own recognisance on March 1, leaving Zak, Fetkulov and Mukhutdinov in custody. 

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