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Eight People Convicted Over Deadly Siberian Mall Fire

People visit a makeshift memorial to victims of a shopping mall fire in Kemerovo in western Siberia in March 2018.
People visit a makeshift memorial to victims of a shopping mall fire in Kemerovo in western Siberia in March 2018.

KEMEROVO, Russia -- A court in Siberia has found a group of eight people guilty of negligence in a 2018 fire in the city of Kemerovo that killed 60 people, including 37 children.

The Zavodskoi district court on September 30 found the former director of a company that owned the Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) mall, Yulia Bogdanova; former mall manager Nadezhda Suddenok; the mall's former technical director, Georgy Sobolev; and the mall's former security officer, Sergei Antyushin guilty of providing unsafe services that led to the deaths to customers.

In addition, it also found the chief of a company that installed the fire-alarm system in the mall, Igor Polozinenko; his assistant, Aleksandr Nikitin; and firefighters Andrei Bursin and Sergei Genin guilty of negligence in the blaze.

The court started pronouncing the verdicts and sentences on September 30, The process can take several days to finish.

In May, a prosecutor asked the court to sentence the eight defendants to prison terms of between five years and 14 1/2 years.

Bogdanova and Sobolev pleaded partially guilty, while the others pleaded not guilty.

The 2018 fire was one of the deadliest in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

It was the last in a long series of disasters caused or exacerbated by the corrosively deadly effects of negligence, carelessness, corruption, corner-cutting, and crumbling infrastructure.

Residents, relatives of the victims, and Russians nationwide blamed corruption and government negligence for the high number of casualties.

Days after the fire, investigators said that blocked fire exits, an alarm system that was turned off, and "glaring violations" of safety rules before the blaze started led to the high death toll.

A total of 16 people, including leaders of the regional Emergency Situations Ministry and officials who had approved the mall's operations, have been charged with crimes that investigators said led to or aggravated the tragedy.

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