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Maxima Latvija and Re&Re deny their guilt in Zolitude tragedy; call charges unjustified

Photo: pixabay.com.
Both Maxima Latvija and the construction company responsible for the collapsed building – Re&Re – do not agree with the prosecution on accepting responsibility in Zolitude tragedy, said representatives of both companies at a court hearing on Thursday, 1 November.

Kaspars Krūmiņš read the testimony on behalf of Re&Re. He explained that the prosecution said when submitting the case to court that the tragedy is associated with illegalities performed in the company’s interests. Krūmiņš told the court that «it is absurd to believe the collapse of the building was in the company’s interest».
 

Re&Re representative also said that the company does not believe construction supervisor Staņislavs Kumpiņš had committed negligence as he is accused of.
 

Maxima Latvija testimony was read by the company’s representative Elīna Stībele. In the testimony she read, Maxima representative repeated what was said previously by senior work safety specialist Inna Šuvajeva, stressing that employees of the collapsed supermarket acted in accordance with established instructions. Stībele also praised Šuvajeva’s competence multiple times.
 

Commenting on the legal responsibility Maxima Latvia may hold, Stībele referenced the 25 April verdict of the Supreme Court, which mentions that the collapse of the roof was outside of Maxima Latvia’s control. She also mentioned that the objective of having a fire alarm is signaling the risk of a fire, not the collapse of the building. She thereby stressed that the fact the fire alarm went off more than an hour before the collapse of the roof was nothing more than coincidence.
 

Stībele also testified that immediately after the tragedy Maxima Latvija started assisting rescuers and victims, as well as paid compensation to children whose parents died in the tragedy. She also said that Maxima Latvija has reached an agreement with 52 of 54 relatives of those who died in the wreckage regarding the payment of EUR 100,000 compensation to each family.
 

In the testimony Stībele repeatedly said that compensations were paid not because Maxima Latvija decided to take legal responsibility but because it took moral responsibility for the tragedy.
 

During the court hearing, the prosecution asked to read several pieces of testimony from Šuvajeva’s pre-trial process the prosecution thought was in contradiction to what she said.
 

Legal persons – CM Consulting and HND Grupa – also testified during the court hearing. CM Consulting representative Helmuts Kols told the court that the company does not admit its guilt, HND Grupa representative, the accused Ivars Sergets, said his company exercises the right to not testify.
 

At the end of the court hearing, the prosecution asked the court to announce a break to allow members of the prosecution to go through today’s testimonies and decide on future actions. The court complied and announced a break until 6 November.
 

LTV reports that Riga Regional Court had declined KPV LV member Aldis Gobzems’ side complaint regarding the civil complaint submitted by three victims of the tragedy against SIA Homburg Zolitude. With this complaint, Gobzems had previously appealed the decision of a first instance court to leave the plea with no attention.
 

This autumn, because of Gobzems’ failure to attend hearings, Riga City Pardaugava Court decided not to review the aforementioned complaint against SIA Homburg Zolitude. Gobzems appealed this decision, but Riga Regional Court decided nonetheless to reject the complaint on 16 October.
 

«The lawyer lacked the authority to submit a side complaint. A certificate of authority is a compulsory document in order to confirm requests are worth reviewing. Because no such document was found among submitted materials, Riga Regional Court decided to decline commencement of an appeal process,» said Riga Regional Court chairman’s assistant for public relations Raimonds Ločmelis.
 

Gobzems said he does not know the reasons why the complaint was rejected. He did say that the case will be submitted to court again.
 

As it is known, the court currently reviews the criminal case in regards to the tragedy that occurred in Zolitude 21 November 2013, when a Maxima supermarket collapsed, killing 54 and injuring several dozen people.
 

Construction experts concluded that the tragedy occurred because roof support load was calculated incorrectly. The prosecutor’s office raised charges against nine persons for violation of construction rules, negligence in work of officials, negligence that lead to deaths of several people and violation of work safety regulations.

BNN/LETA

02-11-2018
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