Relatives and friends of the more than 200 people killed in a nightclub fire marched through a southern Brazilian town Tuesday to pay homage to the victims on the second anniversary of the tragedy and demand punishment for those responsible.
The group placed flowers outside the now-closed Kiss nightclub in the university town of Santa Maria and demanded measures to present similar occurrences. Marchers placed a large poster demanding justice front of the local prosecutor’s office and released 242 white balloons, one for each of the victims.
The two owners of the club and two band members blamed for starting the fire face homicide charges, but are free pending trial. A guilty verdict could bring a prison sentence of up to 30 years, although the complexity of Brazil’s legal system and the ability to present numerous appeals means years can elapse before someone convicted of a crime is put behind bars.
The fire began after midnight on Jan. 27, 2013 the lead singer of a country-style band onstage lit a flare as part of a pyrotechnics show, sparking the blaze that consumed foam building materials.
Investigators say the victims were suffocated by toxic smoke as they stampeded through then darkness looking for escape from a windowless building with no emergency exits. Six hundred and thirty people also were injured.
Since then, little has been done to improve fire safety or improve enforcement of existing fire codes across the country.
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