Trials of horror disco fire suspects start next week

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2001, 12:00am

More than 20 people are to go on trial next week over the fire in a disco in Luoyang, Henan, which killed 309 people on Christmas Day.

The Henan-based Huaxi Dushi Daily reported yesterday that 23 people would be put on public trial on June 1 and 2 in two intermediate courts.

A prosecutor at Luoyang Intermediate Court confirmed the upcoming trial but refused to release the names of those involved.

Several unlicensed welders who sparked the fire while working in the basement of the building have been held directly responsible for the blaze.

Some of the management of Dennis Merchandising, a Taiwanese-run supermarket that ordered the construction work, may also be prosecuted.

Investigators attributed the high death toll in the disco fire to blocked fire exits and lax safety standards. Provincial authorities allowed the disco to continue operating for three years despite it being declared a fire hazard, according to investigations.

Government officials will possibly also be held responsible. Procurator Li Xuebin was quoted at the time by a local newspaper as saying that while the criminals behind such tragedies would have to face justice, government officials whose negligence of duties and abuse of power had led to the accidents would also be disciplined and tried.