Eight to face charges over Zolitude disaster

The State Police (VP) have completed primary investigations into the Zolitūde supermarket roof-collapse disaster of November 2013, and it was one of the most complex and all-encompassing probes ever conducted in Latvian police history, Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis told the press Tuesday.

“This road has been hard and full of challenges, police investigators had to acquire the knowledge and experience required to investigate such a case entirely from scratch,” said Interior Ministry spokesperson Daiga Holma after the minister’s press conference.

Altogether 47 investigators worked on the case, said VP Criminal Police chief Andrejs Grišins.

Today the VP handed over the main part of the case to the General Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation has identified eight persons and four legal entities against whom prosecutors are expected to open cases within ten days’ time, the police chief said.

The probe included Latvia’s broadest-scope study of a crime scene ever conducted, lasting 250 days from the date of the tragedy on November 21, 2013 until June 28, 2014. Over a hundred police workers were involved in the process, assisting the 47 investigators with the case.

Over 200 tons of material evidence was gathered at the scene – mostly construction debris from the site. The criminal case now stretches across 14,000 pages in 56 volumes. Police have seized 47 packets of documentary evidence as well.

Fifty-four people lost their lives in the collapsed Maxima supermarket and adjoining shops when the roof caved in following the going-off of a fire alarm. Fifty-nine were injured and 143 relatives of the victims, plus 38 persons and 11 legal entities were adjudged to have suffered moral harm.

Monetary losses - which pale against the death toll - from the tragedy are estimated to total about €98 million.

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