Argentina Fireworks

Although Argentinean judges convicted several in a deadly nightclub fire case, people clashed in the streets after learning some defendants will remain free.

Judges convicted concert promoters, city officials and a band manager Aug. 19 in the 2004 Cromagnon Republic nightclub fire that killed 193 people.

Club owner/promoter Omar Chabon and the band’s manager were sentenced to 20 years and 18 years in prison, respectively, for the blaze ignited by flares set off in the overcrowded venue, which ignited foam on the club’s ceiling.

Members of rock band Los Callejeros, who were onstage and allegedly encouraged audience members to light the flares, were absolved of criminal responsibility and those convicted remain free pending appeal.

The verdict caused uproar and police struggled to separate family members of victims from followers of the band who punched each other in the courtroom and the streets outside.

The tragedy became emblematic of Argentina’s governmental failures and alleged corruption. Many hoped for stiff sentences for a police supervisor and city inspectors accused of taking bribes and allowing many of the 3,000 fans to carry fireworks into the 1,000-capacity club.