Santika


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Readers may remember the Santika tragedy that occurred in Bangkok on New Year's Eve 1998. A fire ripped through the nightclub after an indoor fireworks display went wrong, killing 67 people in all. Nearly three years after the incident a  Thai court has finally sentenced the nightclub's owner and a lighting company executive to three years’ imprisonment. Three years. It's not a lengthy sentence, by any means.

The Bangkok Criminal Court found Santika nightclub owner Wisuk Sejsawat and company executive Boonchu Laosinart guilty of causing the deaths of other persons without intent.

More than 1,000 revelers were inside the club when an indoor fireworks display set off after the countdown to New Year ignited the blaze. The fire raced through the two-story building, sending panicked guests running for the main entrance. (AP)

In addition to the light senetnces, the amount of compensation the court ordered to be paid is also shamefully small.

The Bangkok Criminal Court found nightclub owner Wisuk Sejsawat and company executive Boonchu Laosinart guilty of causing the deaths of other persons without intent and jailed them both for three years. It also ordered Boonchu's company to pay 8.7 million baht (£162,000) in compensation to the victims or their families.

But British survivor Oliver Smart said his claim for his injuries alone had been valued at around the same amount.

And his lawyer, Clive Garner, a partner at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, said there were "grave concerns" about the "very low level" of the payout.

"This is a pitiful sum and is clearly insufficient to compensate those who have suffered serious injuries and the dozens of families who lost loved ones in this terrible incident.

"Even the costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation alone will significantly exceed this sum. We are very concerned about the injustice of the award and how this could affect the recovery of victims."

This was certainly not the outcome most people were hoping for.

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