Sunday 21 January 2018

Romanian nightclub owner questioned after fatal blaze

A man waves a large Romanian flag during the third day of protests calling for early elections in Bucharest (AP)
A man waves a large Romanian flag during the third day of protests calling for early elections in Bucharest (AP)
A woman shouts anti-corruption slogans during the third day of protests in Bucharest, Romania (AP)

Romanian prosecutors have questioned an owner of the Bucharest nightclub where a fire killed 32 people and injured 180.

Anti-corruption prosecutors questioned Paul Gancea, one of the three owners of the Colectiv nightclub, where the fire broke out last Friday night, the deadliest of its kind in Romania.

Mr Gancea was responsible for securing permits for the club. He was detained on Tuesday with the other two owners for "grave negligence and irresponsibility" and a "high level of social danger".

Agerpres news agency reported that prosecutors were taking documents from the district town hall where the club was located and the financial administration authorities.

Also on Friday, Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders said that nine survivors of the fire will be flown to the Netherlands to receive treatment in specialist burns units at three Dutch hospitals.

Some 90 people remain in hospital in serious or critical condition in hospitals around the capital, many suffering from burns.

"I'm pleased that Dutch expertise can be used to give the victims the best possible care," Mr Koenders said.

The fire sparked mass protests and led to the resignation of prime minister Victor Ponta and his cabinet on Wednesday.

Interior minister Gabriel Oprea announced on Friday he would not stay on under an interim government and was immediately handing over his ministerial duties to Ilie Botos, a state secretary in the ministry who was Romania's general prosecutor from 2003 to 2006.

Mr Oprea had been under pressure to resign even before the fire, after a policeman died when his motorbike hit a hole on October 20 while escorting Mr Oprea's motorcade.

Press Association

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