Thailand’s Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced the owner of the former Santika Club to three years in jail for recklessness causing multiple deaths and injuries following the New Year’s celebration fire which killed 66 party-goers two years ago.
The court read the verdict as prosecutors earlier indicted Santika Club executive Wisuth Setsawat, aka “Sia Khao” and other six people.
Others charged include the Focus Light System company, which provided special effects for the New Year countdown, Thawatchai Srithumma, the club’s operations manager, Pongthep Chinda, entertainment manager, Putthipong Wilakkree, marketing manager, and Sarawut Ariya, lead singer of the club’s band, “Burn”, who lit fireworks during his performance and Boonchoo Laosinat, owner of the Focus Light System.
All seven were charged with recklessness causing other people’s deaths and severe injury, as well as holding a light and sound performance without any signage of the building plan and fire emergency exits.
The court found three persons — Mr Wisuth, the Focus Light System company, and Mr Boonchoo, the light and sound company’s executive — guilty of recklessness and gave them the highest penalty possible under Thailand’s Criminal Code, Article 290.
Mr Wisuth and Mr Boonchoo were handed three-year jail terms while Focus Light System was fined Bt20,000.
The three defendants were ordered to pay Bt87 million in compensation as requested by the plaintiffs.
Police investigations subsequently showed a long list of insufficient measures on fire safety in the nightclub, despite knowing the exact causes of the blaze in the overcrowded entertainment spot that night.
Some injured said there were insufficient exit signs, making them be unable to find their ways out in the midst of thick smoke, while some said there were steel bars preventing them from breaking the glass windows to escape the raging blaze.
Then, it was reported that newly-appointed Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul had said during his visit to Chulalongkorn Hospital where blaze victims from the New Year’s blaze at Santika Club were being treated that law enforcement in fire safety and the building code must be stepped up.
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