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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 February 2008, 02:16 GMT
Sentences over Paraguay shop fire
Chairs with pictures of the victims of the 2004 Ycua Bolanos supermarket fire in Asuncion, Paraguay, 2 February 2008
Families set up chairs near the court in memory of the deceased
A Paraguayan court has sentenced a supermarket chain owner to 12 years in jail over the deaths of more than 300 people in a fire at one of his stores.

Judges found Juan Pio Paiva guilty of manslaughter, but rejected calls for a harsher sentence over the 2004 blaze.

His son Daniel was jailed for 10 years and security guard Daniel Areco for five over the fire which injured 400.

Relatives have accused Mr Paiva of blocking people's escape by locking the stores' doors to prevent looting.

The first trial on the fire, held in 2006, was annulled by the Supreme Court after thousands of people rioted, believing the original verdict to be too lenient.

Lacking safety features

But families of the victims have complained that the new prison terms are still too lenient.

Hundreds of people protested outside the court calling for the defendants to be given the maximum sentence of 25 years.

Three shareholders were acquitted.

A child is carried from the scene of the Asuncion
Several hundred people were inside when the fire broke out

The fire began in a chimney that an investigation found had been badly built and badly maintained.

The shop was also found to have lacked an effective fire detection system or proper emergency exits.

The defendants were charged with negligent homicide and endangering people in the workplace.

The court blamed them for chaining shut the doors of the Ycua Bolanos store in Asuncion after the fire had started.

During the trial the defendants said they had closed down the supermarket because they feared those inside would start looting, AFP news agency reported.

It was the worst fire in Paraguayan history.



SEE ALSO
Anger at Paraguay blaze verdict
06 Dec 06 |  Americas
Paraguayan complex owners charged
03 Aug 04 |  Americas
Paraguay shop fire toll tops 300
02 Aug 04 |  Americas
Country profile: Paraguay
06 May 04 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Paraguay
30 Jun 04 |  Country profiles



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