Russia jails seven for 2009 nightclub fire that killed 156

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia on Tuesday jailed seven people for up to nine years for their roles in a horrendous nightclub fire in 2009 in which 156 clubbers died after an indoor firework show sparked a blaze.

The co-owner of The Lame Horse club in the Urals city of Perm, Anatoly Zak, received a jail sentence of nine years and 10 months for causing death through carelessness and by providing unsafe services, the Perm prosecution service said. He denied his guilt.

More than 300 people attended a party in the upscale nightclub that had only one narrow exit. An illegal firework show caused plastic and straw elements in the decor to melt and emit deadly fumes. Most of those who died suffocated from fumes, unable to find their way out. Eighty-three people were also injured in the fire, several of whom remain in a serious state.

Seven others were found guilty by the Perm court, including the club's executive director, the men who put on the firework show and three fire safety officials. Six received sentences of between four and six years, while the former head of the region's fire safety inspectors was fined.

Last year, the club's commercial director, Konstantin Mrykhin, was jailed for six and a half years. He had fled to Spain after the fire but was arrested there and extradited back to Russia in 2011.

The judge ruled that the families of those who died would each receive 1.5 million rubles (S$59,500).