PERM, February 7 (Itar-Tass) - The lawyer of the second organizer of the fireworks show at the Perm nightclub Khromaya Loshad /Lame Horse/ has asked the court to acquit his client. "The culpability of my client cannot be regarded as ascertained.. and in case of mitigating circumstances he should be acquitted," Igor Derbenev's lawyer Anna Bateyeva said at Perm's Lenin district court on Thursday which is hearing the case over the fire that claimed 156 lives.
The lawyer reminded that Derbenev Jr was accused of medium gravity crime /violation of the rules of use of pyrotechnics, which resulted in serious harm to health and people's death/. Also, Bateyeva drew the court's attention to the fact that her client had 3rd group disability and had been injured when helping evacuate people from the nightclub engulfed in flames. "He needs medical treatment and surgery, so I ask the court to take it into consideration as a mitigating circumstance," Bateyeva said.
Igor Derbenev and his father, who is also in the prisoner's dock, stated that "using /pyrotechnic/ "fountains" could not have caused the fire. I did not violate the safety rules as I fully trusted father and was convinced that the pyrotechnic "fountains" could be used indoors. I believe father had seen that they were safe to use," he said.
"I'm asking the court to pass a just decision. I suffered myself, I was barely able to leave the club, was trying to put out the fire. But I sincerely regret my being unable to help people, extinguish the fire... I apologize and offer my condolences," Igor Derbenev noted.
Sergei Derbenev said he was innocent, claiming that the fire had broken out because of faulty cabling, not because of the use of fireworks indoors.
The fire at the Perm nightclub broke out overnight to December 5, 2009, as it was marking the first anniversary of its establishment. One hundred and fifty-six people died of carbon monoxide and other toxic combustion gases poisoning and another 65 suffered serious harm to health. The authorities recognized 404 people to be the victims within the criminal case.
On June 4, 2010, the Investigative Committee (SK) brought the finalized charges against eight people, including co-founder of the Lame Horse cafe Anatoly Zak, executive director Svetlana Yefremova, and art director Oleg Fetkulov. They were charged with the commission of the crime covered by Article 238, Part 3 of Russia's Criminal Code (provision of services that fail to meet the requirements for the safety of life or health of consumers, which resulted, through negligence, in the death of two or more persons).
The firework show organizers (the Derbenev father and son) were charged with violating the rules for the use of explosives, flammable substances and pyrotechnic products.
Former chief regional fire safety inspector Vladimir Mukhutdinov was charged with abuse of office powers, and fire safety inspectors Dmitry Roslyakov and Natalia Prokopyeva - with negligence.
According to the 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 prosecutor said the guilt of all the defendants had been proven and demanded the toughest penalty for Anatoly Zak, the co-owner of the nightclub.
Zak earlier conveyed his condolences to the victims' families. He refused to admit his guilt and asked for softer punishment. "They made a scapegoat of me, and slated me for punishment. I've long understood that it's my cross and has been bearing it for the fourth year running," he stated.
Nightclub executive director Svetlana Yefremova brought her apologies to the injured parties. "I wish to tell the relatives of those who died on that terrible night that I'm bringing my apologies. Very many people died, and it's hard to live with this fact," Svetlana Yefremova said at the hearing on Tuesday, "I've given an honest account of my work at the club. I admit my guilt, and am ready to accept any punishment meted out by the court."
Art director Oleg Fetkulov brought his apologies, too. "I understand your pain, because this tragedy has affected my family, too, and perhaps, it is my punishment for the rest of my life. I wish to apologize again for not being able to prevent this tragedy," he said.
The lawyer of former chief regional fire safety inspector Vladimir Mukhutdinov said his client had not participated in the acceptance inspection of the nightclub quarters.
"Mukhutdinov had never participated in the acceptable of this facility; he had known nothing about unauthorized remodeling at the cafe."
The prosecutor had asked to sentence Mukhutdinov to two years in a penal colony and soften the charges against him. The injured parties objected to the prosecutor's proposal and asked for the maximum jail terms for all the defendants.
“Lame Horse” co-owner Konstantin Mrykhin was detained in Spain and extradited to Russia. On May 14, 2012, Perm's Lenin district court sentenced him to 6.5 years in a general regime penitentiary and ordered to pay 200 million roubles in compensation to the injured parties.