Nursing home director sentenced for deadly fire

  • 2009-04-29
  • By Monika Hanley
RIGA - Former nursing home director Irena Hartmane was found guilty of being responsible for the "Regi" nursing home fire of 2007 and was sentenced to six years of jail time.
The Kuldiga District Court informed reporters that the sentence will be suspended for three years, during which time Hartmane will be monitored.

Andis Silis, responsible for fire safety at "Regi," was also charged and given 280 hours of community service. He was also sentenced to two years of jail time, suspended for three years.
The fire, which took place in February 2007, killed a total of 25 people.
Both Silis and Hartmane will have to pay 2,500 lats in damages to three relatives of the victims in the fire. The pair will also have to pay 66,669 lats in compensation to the Welfare Ministry and 237 lats to Lattelecom Communications Company.

The court ruled that the fire started due to faulty wiring that was illegally installed as per Hartmane's orders.
The court's decision may be appealed within 10 days. Welfare Ministry lawyer Maris Knoks told reporters that he is satisfied with the ruling.
The lawyers for the defense have not yet decided whether or not to appeal the court's decision.
Kuldiga District Court began reviewing the case on Oct. 28, 2008, after a lengthy investigation into the cause of the fire. The incident also sparked national interest due to the extent of the tragedy and the possibility of faulty wiring in people's own homes.

The nursing home's former head Hartmane was charged with negligence and violating fire safety regulations.
According to the charges, Hartmane had ordered the reconstruction of the nursing home's upper floor, where no proper fire alarm systems were installed, the prosecutor's office told the court.
Fuses in the home were blown out regularly because of electric heaters on the upper floor. Hartmane ordered the weak fuses replaced with stronger ones, which were installed illegally.

On the night of Feb. 28, 2007, a fire broke out at the Alsungas nursing home, where first and second category invalids and mental patients had been living. The cause of the fire was faulty electrical heating and wiring. Then President Vaira-Vike Freiberga said that the fire was also partially the fault of the state.

"The facts show that the state together with the municipalities simply were not together on matters. We haven't been able to protect people's lives," she said.