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Thursday, 8 June, 2000, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Sweden disco fire: Four jailed
Aerial view of arson scene
The industrial building was overcrowded with party-goers
All four Iranian-born defendants in the trial arising from an arson attack on a Swedish disco party in 1998 have been found guilty.

The blaze at a cultural centre in the docks area of Gothenburg was one of the worst civilian disasters ever in Sweden, killing 63 people and injuring 250 others.

The prison sentences are long for these young men but it was a very serious crime

Prosecutor Ulf Noren
The court heard how an inflammable liquid was poured over chairs stacked in the emergency stairwell and set alight after an argument over the 40 kronor ($5) entrance fee.

Three of the defendants were jailed for between six and eight years while the fourth was sentenced to juvenile detention, because he was under 18 at the time of the offence.

"I'm personally relieved and satisfied with this judgment," said Iman Shakarchi, who lost two daughters in the fire and has spoken on behalf of victims.

Indifference to danger

The written judgment of two magistrates and four lay assessors said the men must have known their actions could result in a fire that would endanger lives and cause great damage.

For this reason they were convicted of "aggravated arson".

Survivor of disco fire
Many victims were from the immigrant community
"They acted with complete indifference to the danger which the fire posed," the judgment said.

Correspondents say Swedes have been angered by the way two defendants did not express regret and many believe the whole truth has not emerged.

"This is a positive judgment. It means that the Gothenburg discotheque fire has been cleared up.

"The prison sentences are long for these young men but it was a very serious crime," said chief prosecutor Ulf Noren.

The trial was held in three separate halls in Gothenburg exhibition centre because of the large numbers of relatives and survivors entitled to attend proceedings.


Three of the defendants - Shoresh Kaveh, Housein Arsani and Meysam Mohammadyeh - are aged 19, the fourth, Mohammad Mohammadamini, is 21.

Burnt interior of building
The fierce fire raged out of control
All four had denied the charges of arson but one of the 19-year-olds admitted starting what he called a small fire in the stairwell of the industrial building.

Most of the victims were immigrants or children of immigrants.

The lawyers for both defence and prosecution have until 29 June to appeal against the verdict.

Two of the defence lawyers said they would probably appeal.

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31 Oct 98 | Europe
Sweden mourns disco tragedy
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