Brazil court convicts four for nightclub blaze that killed 242

Owners of Kiss nightclub and band members found guilty of murder and attempted murder.

The incident at Kiss nightclub had shocked Brazil [File: Antonio Scorza/AFP]

A Brazilian court has convicted four people for their role in a nightclub fire that killed 242 people, handing down sentences of up to 22 years.

The January 28, 2013 blaze at the Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria started when members of a musical band lit flares that set fire to the ceiling.

Two owners of the venue and two members of the Gurizada Fandangueira band were found guilty on Friday of murder and attempted murder of the victims, who were mostly young university students.

Club co-owners Elissandro Callegaro Spohr and Mauro Londero Hoffmann received 22.5 and 19.5 years of prison time, respectively. Band members Luciano Bonilha Leao and Marcelo de Jesus dos Santos received 18 years each.

Judge Orlando Faccini delivered the verdict on the tenth day of an emotional trial held in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state.

“The defendants’ culpability is high … this much life was not taken away by chance,” Faccini said.

A probe found the venue had no functioning fire extinguishers, only two doors for evacuating people from an overcrowded dance floor and poor emergency signage.

Police concluded the fire started when sparks from a flare lit by the musicians ignited the insulating material of the club’s ceiling, releasing lethal fumes and turning the venue into a death trap.

The court heard the testimony of 14 survivors, 19 witnesses and the four defendants.

“The last time I ran, it was to save myself from death,” Kelen Giovana Leite Ferreira, a survivor of the tragedy who had a part of her right leg amputated, told the court.

Devalni Rosso, another survivor, showed the jury her back and arms covered with scars from the fire, which burned 50 percent of her body.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies