Trial Begins Over Argentine Club Fire

The owner of a nightclub and members of rock band Los Callejeros could face eight to 20 years in prison if convicted during a trial for a 2004 fire that killed nearly 200 concertgoers in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The fire, reportedly the deadliest in the country’s history, broke out in Omar Chaban’s Cromagnon Republic nightclub after someone set off flares within the venue, igniting foam on the club’s ceiling and filling the room with smoke.

Prosecutors claim Chaban packed the 1,500-capacity club with more than 4,000 concertgoers the night of the fire, blocking exits to keep people from sneaking in the venue. Prosecutors also alleged members of the band encouraged fans to set off the flares during their performance.

Three public officials reportedly face charges in the trial for failing to enforce city safety regulations.

Court proceedings are expected to run at least seven months, during which time more than 300 witnesses will take the stand, BBC News reported.