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Court partially closes nightclub fire trial to reporters

November 22, 2011, 13:27 UTC+3

Anatoly Zak claimed the reports on his health violated his rights and divulgued "medical secrecy"

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PERM, November 22 (Itar-Tass) — Perm's Lenin District Court on Tuesday partially closed the hearings of the case over the fire at the Khromaya Loshad (Lame Horse) nightclub in Perm in 2009, in which more than 150 people died.

The court thereby granted the petition lodged by Anatoly Zak, the key defendant and de-facto owner of the club, who had claimed he did not wish reports on the condition of his health leaking to the press. Zak has serious health problems and the court postponed the hearings on a number of occasions.

He also claimed the reports on his health violated his rights and divulgued "medical secrecy."

"I'm asking to hear the case behind closed doors," Zak said in his petition. Other defendants and their lawyers supported his request.

For his part, prosecutor for the state Dmitry Tupitsyn stated that "the petition came too late, as Zak had complained about his health from the beginning of the trial."

The injured party objected to the trial in camera.

After hearing the parties' judge Dmitry Vyatkin ruled on conducting "partially closed hearings."

The documents and information on Zak's health will be examined at the hearings behind closed doors, but the rest of the hearing will be open.

In early November, the court suspended the hearing as Zak had to undergo treatment in the hospital of the Federal Penitentiary System in Solikamsk.

Earlier, the Lenin district court refused bail for the key defendant. During the testimony, surgeon Yuri Gusarev, who had examined Zak, said medical terminology did not envision a grave form of Zak's disease. He had complications in 2010, but Zak had been operated upon and the health problem was partially resolved.

The doctor noted that to avoid inflammation and perforating ulcer, Zak needed new surgery. "However, there are no reasons to hurry it up, as there have been no complications. Zak does not need urgent hospitalization," Gusarev said.

Overnight from December 5 to December 6,, 2009, 156 people died in the nightclub, and another 64 were seriously injured. Nine victims suffered medium gravity harm to health, and another seven suffered light harm to health.

Perm's Lenin district court is hearing the case against eight defendants: Zak, Yefremova, Fetkulov, Mukhutdinov, Igor and Sergei Derbenev, and fire safety inspectors Dmitry Roslyakov and Natalia Prokopyeva.

The authorities recognized 404 people to be the victims within the criminal case, SK spokesman Vladimir Markin said earlier.

According to the Investigative Committee (SK), the fire broke out during the show with the so-called "cold fireworks." At first, foam plastic that lined the ceiling caught fire. The investigators also blamed the improper performance of duties by fire inspectorate personnel, who had failed to expose various violations of the fire safety regulations at the cafe.

The case materials comprise 120 volumes. In the course of the probe, the court arrested Zak's assets and property. Zak, who is the founder or co-founder of 28 commercial firms, owns 18 real estate facilities.

In September 2010, Konstantin Mrykhin, another nightclub co-owner, was detained in Spain. The issue of his extradition to Russia was settled on June 16, after Spain had denied political asylum to Mrykhin.

Mrykhin is accused of the commission of crime under Criminal Code articles on the provision of services that fail to meet the requirements for the safety and health of consumers, which resulted in the death of two or more persons.

In September, Mryukhin was convoyed to the Perm Territory. He is now in custody.

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