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SK finishes probe into case against 4 former officials

November 24, 2011, 18:16 UTC+3

Sazhin knew about the illegal functioning of the 'home for the elderly' but took no measures

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MOSCOW, November 24 (Itar-Tass) — The Investigation Committee (SK) finished the probe into the criminal case against four former officials within the case over the fatal fire at the veterans' home in the village of Podyelsk, Kortkeross district, Komi, in which 23 people did. The tragedy occurred on January 31, 2009.

"Former head of the administration of the Kortkeross municipal district Nikolai Livson has been charged with violations of fire safety rules which resulted in the death of more than two people due to negligence, director of the Welfare Centre Tatyana Koldanova is accused of abuse of office powers and exceeding her authority, director of the same center Tatyana Sheveleva is accused of abuse of office powers, and head of the republic's agency for social development Konstantin Sazhin is accused of negligence that resulted in people's death, SK spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass.

"The investigators ascertained that the old people's home illegally functioned for more than 15 years from 1993 through January 31, 2009, without legal documents and properly appointed executives," Markin said.

Koldanova passed unlawful decision on putting elderly and disabled people in the veterans' home, while Livson took no measures to eliminate the violations of fire safety rules. In this connection, evacuation was not possible when the accident occurred, which led to the death of people.

Social services were provided to the tenants in violation of the effective legislation, without proper control by the administration and government bodies, while head of the welfare center was employed fictitiously. "Tatyana Sheveleva unlawfully appointed a person to the post of director of the centre for assistance at home, who did not perform his duties properly. This "disrupted the normal and effective operation of the centre, which actually had no director, as the director's subordinates were providing unlawful services to the elderly and disabled people in the building of a former school," the SK spokesman said.

Sazhin knew about the illegal functioning of the 'home for the elderly' but took no measures.

It was the worst fatal fire case before the Perm Lame Horse nightclub tragedy. The veterans' home building was put up in 1964.

The fire broke out in one of the rooms. Twenty-three people died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and there were only three survivors

"Investigators have carried out much painstaking work to identify all the guilty parties, whose criminal actions or inaction directly led to such grave consequences," the spokesman underlined.

"More than 150 witnesses and injured parties have been questioned, and 38 expert examinations, 50 searches and retrievals of documents have been conducted. Three presentations have been made to Komi government bodies on eliminating the causes and conditions that make such crimes possible. The presentations have been considered and granted.

The criminal case with the indictment was sent for endorsement to a deputy prosecutor general.

In March, three employees of the state fire safety inspectorate were found guilty of criminal negligence.

"A court found that the evidence gathered by the investigation department for the Northwestern Federal District was sufficient to pass a guilty verdict for head of the state fire inspectorate department of the Kortkeross district Sergei Stakhiyev and inspectors Alexander Gudyrev and Valery Oboturov," Markin said.

The court sentenced Stakhiyev to 2 years in a penal colony, and gave two-year suspended sentences to Gudyrev and Oboturov.

"They all were banned from taking jobs in state fire inspectorate agencies: Stakhiyev's ban extends to 3.5 years, and Gudyrev and Oboturov were suspended for three years each.

The fire safety inspectors took no measures to stop the operation of the old people's home, despite the threat to the life and health of the elderly people living there. Some disabled people could hardly move, the court said.

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