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PERM, April 18 (Itar-Tass) — The Lenin district court of Perm on Wednesday began to hear the criminal case against Konstantin Mrykhin, a co-owner of the Khromaya Loshad /Lame Horse/ nightclub, where a fire killed 156 people in December 2009.
The court began a preliminary hearing to decide if the case would be reviewed under special or general procedure. The hearing is held behind closed doors.
"For the trial to be more loyal towards the injured parties, special procedure would be more expedient with Mrykhin pleading guilty," the prosecutor for the state, Vadim Kazarinov, told reporters prior to the hearing.
Plea bargain is possible because the defendant fully acknowledges his guilt.
Special procedure implies that the court will skip the inquest and will not question witnesses in reviewing the case. The defendant cannot be sentenced to more than two-third of the maximum sentence envisioned by a Criminal Code article.
The investigation into Mrykhin's case finished in early April. He was charged under Article 238, Part 3 /"provision of services which do not meet the requirements for the safety of life and health of consumers, resulting in serious harm to health and death of two or more persons by negligence."/
Mrykhin and his wife were in the cafe when the fire broke out, and he managed to escape. Although his wife was brought to a Perm hospital in serious condition, and later flown to St Petersburg for further treatment, Mrykhin left Russia on December 17, 2009 in order to escape the investigators. He was put on the federal wanted list in March 2010, and in May, Interpol issued a wanted notice for him.
He was detained in Barcelona in August 2010 and extradited to Russia in June 2011.
Overnight from December 5 to December 6, 156 people died in the fire that broke out at the nightclub, and another 64 were seriously injured. Nine victims suffered medium gravity harm to health, and another seven suffered light harm to health.
Other defendants are: Anatoly Zak, a de-facto co-owner of the nightclub, unofficial executive director Svetlana Yefremova and art director Oleg Fetkulov, father and son Igor and Sergei Derbenev, who arranged fireworks, and former head of the State Fire Safety Inspectorate for the Perm Territory Vladimir Mukhutdinov. Investigators said the fire had broken 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.