What happened
really?

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Something happened in Göteborg (Gothenburg), the second largest city in Sweden, on the night between the 29:th and 30:th of october 1998, which developed to be a fire disaster. A catastrophe that put Göteborg in sorrow, that stopped Sweden and touched the world.

About 350 youngsters had gathered for a party in a place with limitation of up to 150 people. They came from all over the city and even outside, born all over the world but raised in Sweden and with the common interests as all other sound youngsters in this world like having a good time with friends.

They had gathered in a place, which was not supposed to be used for such well-visited occasions as this party turned to be. The premises were rented by the Macedonian Association in Göteborg and rented for the night to four youngsters who arranged the party. The price of a ticket for the party was about 5 dollars.

The premises were inspected and approved by the Rescue Services as late as in april 1997. It fulfilled all the requirements regarding emergency exits and the possibilities of rapid evacuations. Something happened:

Thursday 29:th of october at 23.42.02: SOS Alarm receives the first alarm about the fire. The Macedonian Association is mentioned but the operator didn’t understand any address…. The operators at service together succeeded to determine the address to Backaplan or Backa Theatre.

On Thursday the 29:th there was hope. There was time.

A rescue-responsible person explained later in interviews that it was partly due to language difficulties that caused the almost 4 minutes delay before the alarm was forwarded to Lundby Fire Station. At 23.49.50, 7 minutes and 48 seconds after the first alarm to SOS Alarm a first team from Lundby Fire Station arrived. The Station is located about 1 minute driving way from the place.

23.57…. "The place is in total chaos./../ The organization of ambulances was not enough to handle a situation of mass-injuries like this, busses were required to transport those with minor injuries….."

Some of the youngsters who were trapped inside the building tried to save themselves by climbing to the windows, almost two meters over the floor, at one side of the place and throw themselves out. It was about six meters high from some of these windows down to the ground, so many of the youngsters were injured or died of the fall. The windows at other side could not be used since grills covered them. All others tried to find the way out through the entrance. The emergency exits, way back inside, could not be used due to fire and other reasons. Lots of the youngsters ended up in a little room at the entrance. Many others got caught in the mountain of human beings, which was built, at the very small exit.

Most of the parents had been informed already around the midnight by friends and others and had come to the place and saw everything that happened. It was a total chaos there while the fire was out of control and their kids were caught in the trap of death.

The people who were there have told about almost everything as wounded and desperate youngsters in chock, who cried out their agony, smoke-helmeted firemen that got inside into the ocean of fire to bring out people, medical personnel who hurried between all wounded and dead, police who tried to take control over the situation, sometimes by using violence, the parents who hugged their wounded or dead children, the determined and heroic youngsters who ran inside again and again or helped the rescue personnel to get out people who were caught at the small exit. At least 4 youngsters loosed their lives when they ran inside into the fire to rescue others. They together saved on the other hand at least 15 others. Once again, when it was required, the weakest made the strongest efforts.

About 200 youngsters were wounded and many of them with life-threatening burn. All injured were taken to the different hospitals in Göteborg and those with the worst injuries were taken to special hospitals around the country and even to Norway.

On Friday the 30:th there were death and pain only.

On the early morning of the 30:th of october the news about the disaster reached the world. The number of victims was reported to be about 50 and Göteborg was put in a state of chock. During the day the number was reported to be 60. The identification was started and the parents and friends were floating between hope and despair. They gathered outside the place and at the different hospitals where all deceased and wounded were taken to. The fire, which was burning until late midnight, was now put out and the premises were empty of all victims, according to the police.

Many parents lost their hopes soon after they identified their dead children. One family who was allowed to keep their hope was the family of the 15-years old Mona Nahani. Information to the police indicated that Mona had got out and the police, convinced on that all victims were removed from the place were looking for her outside.

During the day news about the disaster were broadcast and Sweden was covered by newspaper placards and newspapers which reported about the catastrophe. The flags were flied half-mast and an unofficial day of sorrow took place. The world was reached by the news. The reports continued during the next following days and several survivors and others told what had happened. Some fire specialists suggested already that the fire was started by purpose due to the short time it took before it was spread all over the place. The number of deceased increased to 62 and Mona was still missing. The cause of death for most was determined. They had died of breathing the gases.

On the fifth day after the fire, the police technicians found the rests of Mona inside the premises. A police chief stated that it was splinters found after a careful investigation. 63 of our friends had thereby lost their lives in the fire disaster.

Friends and others rushed to the place already the day after the disaster and the sidewalk beside the car park at front of the building was transformed soon to a sea of candles, flowers, teddy bears, letters of memory and support and so on. The Prime Minister and many other official and unofficial persons who showed their sympathies for those who suffered also visited the place. The king and the queen of Sweden did also do that and met some of the families later.

The weather was freezing cold but many helping hands from friends, people from aid organisations, authorities and common people helped to wipe away the tears, hold the people in despair and to support them. Göteborg was there for them when it was required.

Memorial services were arranged, memories of our 63 friends were honoured by music, song, dance etc. Torches were lighted and people marched with heavy steps to the place of fire. It was touching days when the tears flowed and hearts were broken into pieces when funeral ceremonies took place. It was painful weeks for all who suffered and a difficult month for all others. Sweden kept a minute of silence.

Gradually it was ascertained that the fire had started somewhere in the staircase to which the emergency exit leaded. The police had also found some evidence of people who had been in the culvert that this staircase was connected to. There were no suspects. In the real life it usually means that everyone is suspected. The police excluded nothing and worked with different theories like accident or crime.

On the first of december this site was launched when others thought the words and the sorrow had decreased. Less than a couple of weeks later, the mountain of mourning memories and flowers outside the building was removed in order to avoid that the forces of nature could destroy them. The first Christmas without our 63 friends was around the corner.

The families and other friends wanted that a memorial monument was built at the place of the disaster. "It’s time to carry on", "One last farewell", "Let us learn something from this", "Something like this shall never happen again" and many other wise words were told when others thought that they could sweep the sorrow away. The sea of flowers was replaced by a temporary memorial place containing of some flowerpots and slabs. We who had no wise advises to give away, shook our heads only, cried some of those last tears and got determined.

Months of grief, mourning and uncertainty followed. The wounds started to cure just to open up again of different reasons. The unknown cause of the fire continued to be the biggest obstacle on the way back to a somehow normal life. Some acts or lack of actions from the authorities or authority-persons made the situation worse for the suffering ones.

The 4 youngsters who arranged the party were the only ones to be given suspicions for causing of another person’s death since they had let too many people to come in there. Despite the fact that the cause of fire was a mystery yet. The families of our 63 friends found these accusations inappropriate and demonstrated their strong support for these youngsters.

All of a sudden the police decided that the investigation of the premises were over and wanted to allow the owner to take over since he wanted to renovate and rent out the place again. The premises, which were a part of the death trap, should be considered as an evidence for further investigations, according to many people. The roof could be repaired but nothing else until the course of events were fully investigated, according to the families who now had built up an association to protect their own and their deceased children’s human rights amongst which dignity and respect are included.

The survivors and all other who had been there where everything happened had to revive the disaster again and again when they took part in all hearings by the police. In the meantime an external and independent analysis was going on. It was ordered by the Department of Culture to investigate how the information at the time of the disaster and after that was handled.

The newspaper called Göteborgs-Posten observed the disaster and what happened at that time and afterwards and reported some issues such as:
1- SOS Alarm stated all of a sudden that both the Macedonian Association and Backaplan were mentioned in the first call but it was difficult to understand the exact address. When the reporter asked why they didn’t look into the telephone catalogue where the exact address is, the SOS Alarm responded that they did not have it as a routine to do so.
2- The police chief who had explained the circumstances around Mona and how she was founded inside the premises made clear that he must have expressed himself wrongly or must have been misunderstood. His statement was denied by his own colleagues and also by the family of Mona, the same day that it was announced at a press conference. The family had also the day after the conference asked for an excuse or an explanation why the public was misleaded but they didn’t get any.
3- SOS Alarm and the rescue services had been criticised by the medical personnel, who took part in the rescue, for not sending all the ambulances to the place and also for not having a doctor in charge who could organise the rescue there. The rescue services explained that almost all ambulances were sent to the place of the disaster and only a few numbers of the available resources were kept back for other possible alarms that night.
4- The chief prosecutor Ulf Norén stated that some of the youngsters lied and the reason was their cultural backgrounds. He had engaged some experts who had informed him about this. He did not want to comment who these experts were.
By the way the year is 1999 and Sweden has been and is known as spokesman of human rights. Göteborgs-Posten pointed out some of the critiques that those who have suffered have been claiming these last months. All involved continued however to collaborate with the authorities in charge.

Six months after the disaster a memorial ceremony was hold by the relatives and friends at the place. During the day the temporary memorial place was replaced by another but more dignified one, thanks to the association of the relatives and also the City of Göteborg. Many telegrams, addressed to the relatives, were read by one of the fathers with the cry in his voice and one minute of silence was held.

At the end of may, the police arrested by the order of the chief prosecutor, two young guys suspected for arson. These two who had been seen as many others near to the door leading to the stairs. The chief prosecutor did not find any reason to raise a prosecution against them and they were released on 31:th may 1999. These sudden arrests and releases seemed not to be carefully prepared and surprised the families and many crime lawyers, who claimed that the police must have felt under pressure to show some results.

31:th may 1999 was also the final day for the external report, ordered by the Department of Culture. The report reached also to the public after one week. It established that:
1- There were no language difficulties in the first alarm to SOS Alarm. The two first persons that were involved in the call spoke perfect Swedish without any accent. The third one spoke with a rarely noticeable accent. The name of the Macedonian Association together with Backaplan and name of a store nearby to the place (Sängjätten) had been mentioned already in the first call. The conversation died out after one minute.
2- The police had tried to cover its failures about the missing Mona and how she was found inside the premises at last. There were no proofs that supported the statement of that police chief, not even in the investigation material of the police itself.
3- Most of the resources were sent to the place of disaster and there is no evidence that more resources could have saved more lives. It has also been established that SOS alarm was notified at least two times by the medical personnel with request on sending a doctor to organise the resources at the place. These alarms were not forwarded to hospitals and such a doctor arrived to the place where all wounded had already been transported to hospitals.
4- Lies are not accepted of any culture in the world and the chief prosecutor Ulf Norén's statement that some youngsters lie because of their cultural backgrounds has damaged the confidence for the authorities.
The year is still 1999 and the life continues.

On mid july, the chief prosecutor decided to drop the charges against the four youngsters who arranged the party. Their only mistake was to let too many people in and they have suffered enough for that. The police have also found out that one reason, why the fire could spread so rapidly, could be that the door to the staircase didn't have the automatic closing-lock, which is used to shout the door when it has been opened. The door to the culvert was also open and the fire got air from both sides. The hearings with the four youngsters and representatives of the Macedonian Association have not added any more information about how and when the missing part has been removed. It has not been found inside the premises.

The owner of the building has not been questioned about the missing part. A person has asked the police to investigate the owner because of the missing part and also of other reasons, which are related to the building itself.

A member of a conservative political party, who represents Malmö (the third largest city in Sweden) on behalf of his party in the Swedish parliament, has asked the state attorney to re-examine the chief prosecutor’s decision on dropping the charges against the four youngsters who arranged the party. He mentions their immigrant backgrounds as reason in his letter to the state attorney. The Youth Association within the same political party has demanded several times that he should be thrown out of the party. Yet another proof that young people can be wiser than many so called adults and that there is hope for Sweden and thereby even for Malmö.

A company from Gotland, a beautiful and historical island on the east side, has raised charges against the Building Committee and the Rescue Services in Göteborg. According to this company, which is engaged in fire protection business, the premises had a capacity of 600 persons but the evacuation exits were not adjusted to this. The company says that the premises would never have been approved for parties or other intensive crowd activities such as association meetings, if they had followed the law.

On mid august, it was reported that the City of Göteborg has decided to rent the premises and start the discussions with the families and the survivors to decide further use.

The Commission of Inquiry has ordered computer simulations of the fire and how it was developed from two different instances.

JO has stated that nobody in the police authority in Göteborg has committed any misstake or tried to cover any misstake regarding the search for Mona Nahani, whose body was found inside the premises five days after the disaster. JO stands for The Justice Ombudsman and is an authority that works with the formailities around the acts of other authorities. In lack of competence, the prestige is the only thing left to rescue.

Many efforts have been taken by authorities and private initiators to help those who have been harmed by this disaster. Ever since it occured, five support centers have been working in order to offer professional aid to everyone. Many youngsters and some of the families have declined all help and the experiences so far show that these are the ones who are feeling worst.

It has also been reported during september that about one hundred of the youngsters who attended the party have developed some health problems such as asthma and difficulties in breathing, due to breathing of the gases. About ten youngsters have suffered tremendous burning injuries and must go through several surgical operations during the next years.

The state attorney has decided that the decision on dropping the charges against those four youngsters who arranged the party, is not to be changed. This decision has been welcome by the families of our 63 friends.

On 16th of october a party was arranged to offer the youths a memorable evening. A celebration to honour the life. Many artists such as Blues and Navigators and a couple of hundred volunteers helped at this party that was arranged by four of the mothers. About 900 people participated in this party but at least another 1000 wanted to attend also.

On 29th of october the memorial place was visited by more and more people. Several thousands got there and yet it was so quiet . About 1000 people walked in a march, everyone carrying a lighted torch, from the center of the city, over the bridge, to the place of the disaster. The march was arranged by U2000, an organization that stands up for the youths. The house was covered by a large textile with painted birds on it.

On 30th of october, the official memorial ceremony took place. About 5000 people atteneded to this ceremony. It all started with a song, followed by some word of welcome from one of the fathers. The city councillor and two other politicians hold speeches which included letters from The Royal Family and the Prime minister. One of the mothers held also a speech and ended by wishing all the survivors "all the luck in the world". After her speech it was time for one of the survivors, who has survived and conquered the disaster despite his burn wounds, to say some few words, "I have understood by now that life is not about winning or losing. Life is about living. I can not afford to lose the hope for a happy life. I have decided to keep struggling, even if it is difficult. My friends and others who died are in our hearts.". After his speech, a minute of silence was kept and a memorial monument, was uncovered. The place was at this time filled with flowers, candles, pictures, letters, .....

On mid november, students from Angered's High School, where 15 of our 63 friends were studying, reminded the politicians and all the others about their promises after the fire disaster. The students have also presented their suggestions on what can be done to improve the youths situation sush as meeting places, increased security, more engagement from adults etc. There are even suggestions about a memorial monument and planting of 63 trees in the area around the memorial place.

Media has focused on the subject of "School" during november and pointed out what is lacking in all the schools in this country. Harassment is for example one big problem and something that everybody, not only those who harass but also those who witness it without saying anything, are guilty of. It probably depends on the fact that issues such as ethics and moral are skipped from the education in the schools in Sweden. One can not expect the schools and the society to take care of all education. "It takes an entire village to educate a child".

The City of Göteborg has decided to reduce the rent costs for the schools in this city. The contribution, about 100 million Swedish crowns, can be used for better education. The children of the world are thirsting for knowledge. How is it where you live?

At the beginning of december it was announced that two youngsters had been arrested in Falun, suspected for starting several fires in that city. One of these two lived in Göteborg at the time of the fire disaster and had also been seen outside the premises. He has been heard several times regarding this and police will hear him again. At the same time it was also announced that the police has got a permission from the government to offer a reward of as much as 3.000.000 swedish crowns to any person who can help to solve this puzzle.

At the end of december a documentary movie was showed by the Swedish Television. Members of the rap group Hammer Hill Click were some of those who attended in the movie, which showed amongst other things the life before, during and after the fire disaster. Two members of this group, Alvaro och Gustavo, died in the fire. The movie was showed preliminary for some hundreds chosen ones at a cinema called The Dragon.

The year is 2000. On the 3:th of january three men (19, 19 and 20 y) were arrested by the police. These three had participated in the party and are suspected for starting up the fire. They have been questioned before but not as suspects. All three deny the charges.

In mid january all three suspects appealed against their arrests to the court which decided that they should remain in arrest. The chief prosecutor has applied for extension of the arrest until the 2:nd of February. He has intention to ask for further arrest period after that. Several people have applied to receive part of the announced reward. According to the police the reward has not been a disadvantage for the investigations.

The association of the relatives to the victims of this disaster has asked to be represented by a lawyer in the possible legal proceedings. The lawyer, selected by one of the fathers and two of the youngsters with serious burn injuries, has specialized himself in representing the victims only.
At the beginning of february a fourth guy (18 y), a friend of those three who have been arrested already, was arrested. The chief prosecutor has also applied for an extension of the arrest period for those three. The extension has been admitted by the court, the accused and their lawyers. According to the newspaper Arbetet Nytid, the fourth guy has admitted his share in causing the fire disaster. This information has later on been denied by the lawyers and also by the police.

The city court has rejected the request of the families and others, who have suffered by this disaster, to be assisted by lawyers at a possible law suit. The explanation to this has been that these people will not be subjects for hard interrogations. It seems that the city court has not realized that those who have suffered have got through worse tryings than "hard interrogations" and that they, as the owner of the case, must be entitled to receive professional legal aid, who can explain and look after the varying turns in the corridores of the law and justice.

The chief prosecutor hold a press conference on 24th of february, after consultation with the lawyes of those four guys who have been accused for incendiary. During this conference it was announced that the fire has been started on purpose and that it was no accident. It has not been stated if the four accused accept or deny the charges aginst them. Possible proceedings will be held in april and a possible law suit in may. All four will remain in arrest until then. They will participate in a reconstruction, arranged by the police, at the place of the disaster to establish how the fire has been set or not has been set. All parts have restrictions to talk about the case with media but certain information has already been revealed.

The Court of appeal, which is a higher authority than the city court, has also rejected the request of the families and others, who have suffered by this disaster, to receive any professional assistance by lawyers at a possible law suit. The decision is final.
2000-03-16 and still in Sweden: Gerdt Wikstrand, a senior judge at the city court has stated that a law suit will be held at a conference center in Göteborg. The process will occur in a small room from which the trial will be broadcasted to a larger room where the relatives and other friends who have suffered from this disaster can sit. Gerdt Wikstrand declares as respond to their protests against not being able to attend the real proceedings: "It is as clear as daylight that it is going to be like this. They can not affect this. To handle several hundreds of people, while trying to hold a law suit is impossible.". Our friends feel discriminated, amongst other things because of the fact that they are so many.

2000-03-17: The city court has decided to extend the arrest period of the fourth accused. His lawyer had applied to the court to release him from the arrest. He denies the charges against him, as the other three who are accused. His lawyer applied also to the court to remove the communication prohibition that has been put upon this case, since it causes unnecessary spreading of rumours. The chief prosecutor claims on the other hand that the prohibition is meant to stop spreading of rumours. The court decided to keep the prohibition. The district atorney plans to raise the prosecution in mid april and a law suit will then be held in the period of 3-19 of may. The chief prosecutor has showed a rough outline on how the material that will be used in the court, is organized. It contains i.a. hearing of witnesses, analysis of the technical reconstructions, timetable for the tramcars, the list of calls made from the mobiles owned by the four accused and new information from a group of people from Bergsjön (which is an area within Göteborg).

2000-03-23: Someone has tried to start a fire in the apartment where the family of one of the accused persons live. Police has secured some findings and is interested of any information that can lead to resolve this attempted arson made against the family.

2000-03-29: Less than 200 of those who have suffered (400 in total) have filled in and sent in the special forms for claiming damages.

2000-03-30: The association of the relatives have protested against the decision of the city court on not allowing them, who are the case owners, to attend the room where the possible law suit will occur. The city court claims that the desision is irrevocable.

2000-04-04: The city court states that there are no reasons to change the decision on not allowing the case owners to attend the room where the possible law suit will occur. The reason for this decision is said to be that the low age of the accused persons requires some consideration.

2000-04-05: Bengt Staff, the spokeman of police in Göteborg, says that a possible prosecution is to be raised on 26:th of april. The chief prosecutor has applied for extension of the arrest period until this date. The three oldest ones have agreed to this extension and the youngest one has not responded yet. A possible law suit will be held during 3-18 maj. The defence will have access to the research material when the prosecution has been raised.

2000-04-07: The government has granted a contribution of 90 millions swedish crowns to the city of Göteborg, to compensate about 75% of the costs that this fire disaster has implied in form of medical care and other extraordinary efforts.

2000-04-13: All who have suffered from this disaster will receive one hour legal help from the city of Göteborg until the city court will decide to offer them the ordinary legal help at a possible law suit. The previous decision of the court on this matter has been negative.

2000-04-15: The city court has decided that a third room should be available for the media at the possible law suit. There will be about 100 seats in the first room where the proceedings will take place. Apart from the court itself, some interpreters, media people and some of the case owners will be allowed into that room. Most of the case owners and the relatives will be in the second room.

The brother of one of our 63 friends was prosecuted yesterday for an incident that occured after the disatser. Outside the hospital where he a moment ago had identified his sister amongst the deads, he had seen three or four police officers that stood there and were laughing, according to him, who got even more upset by this and spitted on the face of one of them, resulting that they wrestled him down and beated his head against the ground. The situation calmed down when his relatives came to the place. He was accused yesterday for attempt to be violent against officers, threat and molest.

2000-04-17: The city of Göteborg will arrange that the possible law suit (which will be shown on tv-screen for most of the case owners) is interpreted simultaneously into 13 different languages so that everyone is able to understand what is being said.

2000-04-18: One of the accused persons for this disaster (the 21-years old guy) has admitted that he has taken part in starting the fire, according to the newspaper Expressen/GT which has got access to an investigation done by some social welfare officers. His lawyer, who is not allowed to comment the case because of the communication prohibition, says that his client, so far, has not confessed that he has taken part in starting the fire.

2000-04-19: Yesterday, during the tumult, the police considered to report the responsibles at the social welfare office for breaking the professional secrecy. "One can wonder why the social welfare officers discuss the fire with one of the accused ones." said Bengt Staff, the spokeman of the police in Göteborg. The social welfare office, on the other hand, considered to report the city court for leaving their investigation material out. At the city court, on their own, it was considered that the information could not harm the accused or jeopardize the securtiy of his family. "The legal situation around this act is not clear, and frankly I don't have time to investigate this any further at this moment." said Gert Wikstrand, senior judge at the city court.

2000-04-25: The city court has rejected the appeal, raised by the case owners, about the decision of not allowing all of them to be present in the room where the actual proceeding will occur.

2000-04-26: The four suspects were today prosecuted for arson of first degree. All the research material (about 3000 pages) is now available for public access. According to the prosecution, three of them had made threats (one week before the party) to destroy the party if they were not allowed to get in for free. Well there, they first had made fuss about the entrance fee and later on messed up with others. After all troubles they had left the party. The fourth guy had then opened up the door and let those three to get into the area where the stairs leaded from the culvert to the emergency exit. Inflammable liquid, pieces of papers and some chairs were used there to start the fire in order to destroy the party. One has admitted that he has started the fire. All deny the crime they are prosecuted for.

2000-04-27: All case owners are entitled to receive legal assistance at the law suit. "It is an impossible issue for those who can not the system. It is tremendous important that there are professional people around that can help them with this." says Gerdt Wikstrand, senior judge at the city court. Those who assist the case owners during the trial are also entitled to ask questions.

2000-05-02: It has been reported today that a girl had informed the police last summer, after that she had heard a guy pointing out who could be responsible for this disaster. She left her witness to the police who called her to an ordinary hearing first four months later.

About ten of the relatives have left the association of the relatives (BOA) and built up another association. They are dissatisfied regarding how BOA has been managed. They consider that the information has been lacking and the way of work has been undemocratic within the association. They have also stated in their letter to the police and the prosecutor that they do not share the view of BOA about that relatives must be in the same room as the four accused at the law suit.

Short summaries from the trial, which will start tomorrow, will be broadcasted in 10 different languages via the regional radio- and tv-programs.

2000-05-03: The trial started today. A summary from the on going trial can be found here. Leo Papini, the chairman of BOA will not attend to the trial as a protest against the decision of the city court on not allowing all the case owners to be in the Room A where the real proceeding will take place.

One of our friends who was badly injured in the fire has told in interviews that two of the suspects have been neighbours to him. He has mentioned some of the occasions after the disaster, when he has met them there and that they have asked him how he was and why he was sitting in a wheelchair. Another friend who was hospitalized after the disaster has told in an interview that some of these suspects had come and visited him there. Other friends have told in interviews that they knew some or all of these suspects and even have spent some times with them as friends without noticing anything sucpicious. All have said that the innocent acts of these suspects during the time after the disaster until they were taken into custody, make them to feel even more furious and betrayed now. It has also been reported that the suspects have attended to the funerals of some of our 63 friends.

2000-05-05: Aftonbladet (a swedish newspaper) reports that the family of one of the accused persons has been threatened and that someone has threatened his (10 years old) brother that he will be killed. An insane act of an even more insane individual.

2000-05-10: The lawyer who represents those two guys who were suspected in may 1999 for this disaster, says that they will claim damages of the four who are accused now if they are found guilty, since some of them had pointed out those two as responsible for the fire.

A local radio program which broadcasts to a minority group has been reported to The Press Ombudsman since the names of two of the suspects were revealed during a broadcast they had from the trial. TV4 has also revealed the name of one of the suspects during an interview.

TV4-News have received some information indicating that the reward which was announced, was to make a key witness to talk about what he knows. TV4-News have requested to take part of the investigation material from the police about the contacts with this witness but this material has now become confidential by a decision from the police. Several times before the reward was announced, he had told to the police to investigate further on those who had been involved in an argument at the party.

2000-05-19: The conference center, where the trial has been held, has already been booked during the last week of July for the proceedings of the court of appeal, in case the verdict of the court which is supposed to come on 8:th of June, is appealed by anyone of the sides.

2000-05-24: Iman Shakarchi, the mother of Merjam and Jasmin who died in the disaster and Shirin who survived, has been elected as the new Chairman of BOA. She praised Leo Papini the father of Moa who died in the disaster and who despite the efforts made to persuade him, has said no to a re-election "Leo has done a tremendous work. I really admire him.". Leo said amongst other things "Dyring the autumn the city of Göteborg will dismantle its device for crisis. A huge group of people are however still in need of help. I think this will be the most important role of BOA in the future. I hope that the younger generation will be in the centre of the work.". Masoud is now a member of the new committee which includes three mothers and four youngsters.

2000-06-08: The verdicts of the trial were announced today. The lawyers of some of the convicted persons said that their clients will probably raise an appeal and the lawyers of some of the case owners said that in that case they will ask for high penalties even in the court of appeal.

Aftonbladet (a swedish newspaper) reported earlier this morning that 3 of those accused will get 10 years in prison. The newspaper apologized later on since the news, which showed to be not true, had raised the expectations of the case owners while they were waiting for the real verdicts. The newspaper claimed that the information was given to them by an "initiated source" which later on showed to have lied deliberately.

2000-06-09: The process of the compensation for the damages will follow the conviction verdicts. It can begin when the verdicts have been confirmed after all possible appeals. About 200 of those who have suffered have applied to claim damage. The process can take several years for those with the most extensive injuries.

Expressen (a swedish newspaper) has published the names and the pictures of the three oldest ones of those who have been convicted.

2000-06-14: The rebuilding of the premises have been started. The future of the building is not determined. It will however not stand as a museum of grief, but develop to become a place of giving birth to hope and to support the next generation. The reconstruction occurs in agreement with all involved parts.

The appeal of the defence lawyer Leif Silbersky has become public today. He claims that the prosecutors have not managed to proof his client's guilt.

2000-06-16: The defence lawyer of one of the 19-years old convicts has sent in an appeal to the court yesterday.Anders Munck the defence lawyer of the 21-years old who was convicted has also raised an appeal against the verdict.

2000-06-17: Roberto Morales the father of Yesmin who died in the fire has recorded a cd with songs about her and her boyfriend Sehmuz. They were in love. According to a eyewitness, Sehmuz could have rescued himself. Yesmin did not dare to jump out from the windows, but he stayed there with her up to the end. They died there together. The cd which includes song lyrics of Sehmuz and Yesmin's brother and father is called "Yesmin and Sehmuz, a love story". It costs about 11 dollars and all the incomes of it will go to BOA, the association of the relatives to the victimes of the fire. It can be bought from BOA or at the Katrinelund High School where the two friends had met for the first time.

2000-06-21: The defence lawyer Göran Bergendahl has also raised an appeal against the verdict of his client. All four have now appealed against their verdicts. The court of appeal plans to hold the new examination during 10 days with start on the 10:th of July until the 15:th of August. Gunnel Wennberg, the president of the court will lead the trial.

The first trial which has been hold will be used in a research study within the University of Göteborg. A question that will be debated is whether the disaster and the trial have worked as an integral bridge between different ethnical groups or not. The study consists of three parts and will be built upon conversations with the relatives, youths and other people in Göteborg.

Some of the youngsters who have survived will participate in a camp which is arranged by the city of Göteborg. This is the second summer that these camps have been arranged. Lasse Gustavsson, a fireman with self-experienced burn injuries and other professionals together with the youngsters will help each other during these camps to take strength from the experiences of this disaster and plan for a future.

2000-07-01: Seven of the relatives have appealed against the verdicts. The two youngsters, who were arrested as suspects in May last year after being pointed out by at least one of those now convicted, have also appealed. All demand higher punishment for the convicts.

2000-07-04: The chief prosecutor has also appealed against the verdicts and demands that they should be sentenced to higher punishments by the court of appeal.

2000-07-07: Yesterday, it was the last day for making appeals against the verdicts and about half of all members of BOA have raised such appeals to the court.

2000-07-20: The Department of Culture has granted a contribution of about 9000 dollars for a memorial event which will be arranged by BOA in October in Angered. The swedish rap-artist Petter has promised to attend the event and several other artists have also been contacted.

2000-07-27: The process at the court of appeal started today. A summary can be found here.

2000-08-16: Jasenko Selimovic, artistic leader and director at The Göteborg’s City Theatre, plans to set up a play about the fire disaster. ”It’s about the reasons and mechanisms which are the cause of the fire in Backa. But it’s not a documentary and neither is it a court play with four people in a dark room who doesn’t know what the other does”, Jasenko said. Gonzalo Reyes and Enver Ramirez from the rap-group Hammer Hill Click (which lost two of its members in the fire) are writing songs which will be used in the play. ”There are many things that we recognize in the play. The frustration which exist in the suburbs, the feeling of we and them”, Gonzalo (Alvaro’s brother) said. The play which is written by Mattias Andersson is called "Dom" (which can be pronunced in two ways in swedish, one means ”Them” and another ”Sentence”). The opening night will be on the 24:th of November.

The Backa Theatre also enlarges this year’s repertoire and opens the foyer for the youngsters and those arrangements that they want to organize once in a month. Some kind of compensation for the youngster’s house which still doesn’t exist. This effort will be called ”The eleven hour kids” according to Alexander Öberg, the artistic leader of Backa Theatre.

2000-08-17: A 42 years old woman has been sentenced to her 3:rd time in prison for one year after committing 28 crimes of swindle in Sweden. One of these crimes was committed in connection with the fire disaster, at a hotel, when she pretended to be a psychologist who would take part in working with the crisis. She left the hotel after a couple of days without paying the bill (which catched up with her after such a long time).

2000-08-20: Lejla Ejupovic is a 18-years old girl who has interviewed many of those who survived the fire and she has written down their memories, feelings and reflections in a book which is called "Inner exile - After the fire at Backaplan". It has been a way for her to handle her own grief at the same time that she has helped many more. In the interview, done by Svenska Dagbladet (a swedish newspaper), she said "One works with one's own sorrow and tries to go on slowly. At the end one shapes the sorrow after the life and not the life after the sorrow. I myself know that I'll never forget, but I know that it won't hurt the same allways.".

2000-08-27: According to GP (a swedish newspaper) the clearing av the reason for the fire has restored the public's faith in the police, specially in the areas where the contacts between the public and the police have been lacking. The management of the police authority has also realised the importance of the preventive work that can improve the situation even more. Stig-Arne Gullbrantz, a police officer in North-East areas of Göteborg has been holding some courses during the spring for other officers where they have met different minority groups.

2000-08-29: A swedish web-newspaper called 24timmar.se reported yesterday that many of the relatives are worrying about the court of appeal and whether it will reduce the penalties for those four or not. Tomas Bodström, a lawyer who represents many of the case owners says today in an interview with the newspaper that they will be able to appeal to the Supreme Court if the penalties are reduced.

2000-08-29: The verdicts of the court of appeal were announced today. The prosecutors stated that they feel content about the results. The chief prosecutor said amongst other things that these were good verdicts and that "This is a judgement. It's not mathematics.". The reactions of the case owners and their lawyers have been mixed but most of them felt relieved since the penalties were not reduced and over the fact that the court of appeal affirmed that the code of silence of the criminals which is only a proof of cowardliness is not valid amongst those courageous ones who dare to live in this society.

2000-08-31: The investigation group of the police will produce a list with names of people who should receive a part of the reward money. The decision will be taken upon that by the police management of the West province. It can be between 2 to 10 persons, according to Leif Rundberg, the superintendent in charge of the investigation group.

3 of the convicts want to appeal to the Supreme Court. In the same time the lawyers, who reppresent the people who have suffered from this disaster, are also preparing their deamnds to claim damages. At least 300 demands must have been sent to the city court by now, according to Max Fredriksson, one of the lawyers who represent BOA.

2000-09-01: The Commission of Inquiry has through the police investigations and also by their own interviews found out some information from about 315 youngsters who were at the party when the disaster occured. More than 100 youngsters were rescued by other youngsters and the security guards. About 200 people were already outside the premises when the rescue team arrived. "Some went out when they felt the pungent smoke. But others stayed there and moved towards inside when someone started to rap or put on music. It is a typical behaviour which shows the importance of starting the alarm." says Ann-Louise Eksborg. The Commision will use the material to recommend actions for how to prevent similar disasters to happen again.

2000-09-03: A news program (West News) has reviewed the bills from the defence lawyers for the trail at the Court of appeal and found out that they have not been asked to specify their hours or other expenses and that they have got paid despite that.

2000-09-05: All four convicts have appealed to the Supreme Court.

2000-09-07: Göteborgs-posten has reported the costs for the two trials. The total cost is about 2.7 million dollar. The biggest and probably the most unnecessary expense (about 1 million dollar) has been the rent cost for the conference place and the technical equipments.

2000-09-23: The investigation group of the police has found out that between 4 to 6 people could be entitled to part of the reward.

2000-09-27: The National Courts Administration has examined and approved the lawyers bills for the two trials. It has also been reported that one of the members of the court during the first trial is suspected for commit a breach of professional secrecy, after leaking out (wrong) information about the decided punishments to Aftonbladet, which leaded to upset those who have suffered.

2000-09-30: Lennart Olin, the rescue leader on the place of the fire during that night, wants to have a new investigation about who owns the responsibility for what had been done before the fire. He considers that the responsibility of the property owner, the landlord and the organizers must be reviewed. "It must be a serious crime to take away people's chance to get out by blocking or locking evacuation exits", he said to GT. It has not been cleared if such an investigation should also include the rescue efforts (S.O.S etc.) after that the fire had been detected.

The chief prosecutor Ulf Norén has described to the Swedish public radio how the investigation has affected his life. The huge attention and the hard pressure made it difficult for him to work after the trials. He said that, during the trials, he took home the work, suffered of insomnia and was often easily upset. He and other prosecutors who have worked with similar big cases, ask for some guidance to get back to the work.

2000-10-04: A 50-years old guy was prosecuted yesterday since he had defalcated money from the city's economical contribution (about 2500 dollars) for the funeral of his deceased son, one of our 63 friends. The guy (a so called father) recieved 2000 dollars from the divorced mother to cover the costs for the funeral but choosed to defalcate the money instead.

2000-10-05: The Police investigation group is now clear about the persons who could take part of the reward money. Their identities will remain confidential of security reasons. A couple of witnesses have already secured identities.

2000-10-09: Some of the lawyers who assist the case owners wrote in a debate article in a swedish newspaper (Dagens Nyheter) that those who have lost a child might be disappointed regarding the claim for damages. The insurance companies or The fund for crime's victims will pay for the caused damages since the convicts do not have any assets. In the cases where the insurance companies stand for the payment, it is usual that they estimate the pain of loosing a child to a value of about 2600 dollars.

2000-10-12: Thomas Bodström, one of the lawyers, who represented the case owners during the trials, was announced today as Minister of Justice by Göran Persson, The prime minister. Max Fredriksson, who is one of the four lawyers who have represented BOA's members, said regarding the announcement that Thomas is a very good process lawyer and was therefore selected as front figure during the trials. He and the two other layers will continue the work during the remaining part. Iman commented the news by saying that "It feels almost like as it is one of us who has become a minister".

2000-10-13: The Supreme Court rejected the applications of those convicted for a re-examination. Thereby all the verdicts are established and the fire is considered to be resolved. The convicts, who have been in custody so far will now be removed to the Kumla prison, where an investigation will be done (with regards to the threats against these four) to determine where they can do their time. Masoud said regarding the decision "It feels quite well but it didn't come as a shock really. It is clear that one can see it as setting an end to it, but this will never pass.".

2000-10-15: The memorial party that was held yesterday, for the second year in line, was popular. The four mothers who stood behind it and all the youngsters and adults, who had taken part and helped with the arrangement of the party, were satisfied with the result. Many artistes performed for free. Alexandra Pascalidou was compere. Roberto Morales, Hammer Hill Click, Triple One, Sensitiv, Shadlims, Bad Boyz, Lila, Topaz, Javiera, Feven and Blues were amongst them who appeared on stage.

Carro Ludvigsen and Zuhir Hersi took care of the contacts with the artistes. Zuhir who was DJ during the night of fire was also one of the DJ:s now. Parash made also a performance and felt otherwise that there was too much to carry. Outside, there were Night Walkers (groups of adults who walk on the streets and see to the kids while their parents are abscents) from Bergsjön and Hisingen (two subareas in Göteborg) and there was also people from The City Mission (a welfare organization). The Departement of Culture and the city administration offices of Gunnared and Lärjedalen (two subareas in Göteborg) were amongst those who supported the party financially.

2000-10-19: The three eldest of those four convicts were removed to Kumla.
2000-10-23: Several persons who have engaged themselves for fellow human beings, received today an award from the Memorial Fund for their efforts. They were also honoured by the title of "Weekday's hero". During these two years, the fund, which was raised upon initiatives from Göteborgs-posten, City of Göteborg and Göteborg's university, has rewarded private persons, associations and others who have worked for increasing comprehension and cooperation between human beings.

2000-10-27: Memorial ceremonies were today held in some of the schools where our friends studied. At Angered's high school, a Memorial Garden was also officially opened. This garden has been built after initatives from students and staff, by financial aid from a great number of private persons, companies and funds. Iraj Parsifar, a psychologist who has supported about 100 youngsters also attended to the ceremony and said that many persons need continuous support during many years ahead. Lars Lilled who is in charge of the City's support-efforts insured tatt such support will be provided to all youngsters that need that.

2000-10-29: The memorial place near to the premises was today visited by several hundreds of people who wanted to remember the day when all friends were close to death and also to honour the memory of our 63 friends who died. Calm music will be played there between 22 to 02 o'clock. A more official ceremony will be held tomorrow at 19:00 in the same place.

2000-10-30: About thousand persons defied the heavy rain and the winds and came to the memorial place to attend to the 2:ns year's ceremony. Thomas Bodström, Minister of Justice, was one amongst all others. Iman, the chairman of BOA, opened with a speech and said "They gathered here, they danced here, they had fun here, they died here. I get warmth in my heart when I see you all here to honour our kids. After this we will meet here every year.". Peter Axman, stepfather to Sofia, followed afterwards by reading a poem. Vida Farahvashi sister to Farzad who died and Mina Owji sister to Masoud who survived, talked after that about their book "The way away" which will be released next week.

The girls got the idea when talking with the headmaster of their school (The German School) and contaced some time later all the families who lost a child in the fire and asked them to write a personal letter to their beloved children. Letters, poems and pictures, that the relatives themselves have contributed with, are published in this book. Vida and Mina wanted to see that our 63 friends become more than just a number in the history and the book is therefore very personal and emotional. After that the turn had come to Roberto Morales who losed his daughter Yesmin. He sang the song "Why" from the cd "Yesmin and Sehmuz, a love story", to the accompaniment of two dancers. Sensitive, a music group, stood for other musical contributions to the ceremony, which was ended by a minute of silence. Afterwards, all who wanted, could visit the almost fully reconstructed premises on the second floor.

Here follows the rest...

Questions, answers and reminders
The rest remains now.

This is a short summary of what has occurred so far.

Since it all happened, many questions have been raised and most of them are listed. The first and the most important question on the list was:

Why did it burn?

The question was raised on 1998-11-01 and some answers to this question were given by some people during the trials. Some more answers have been given during the theater play called "Dom" which shows that there are other answers than the easy ones like "someone set a fire". The answers from others involved during that night and long before that remain.

While we are waiting for them to understand the question and to come with an answer, everyone can think about what they have learned so far and if this disaster has affected their life style (or routines as it is called in authority-langauge). Otherwise the second question, which was raised on 2000-11-05, is:

How to prevent the next disaster?

Some answers to this question have been given now by the rescue services, so the answers from others involved during those days remains. As all know, it is impossible to prevent disasters but since most disasters occur because the preventive work has been nonexisting or with lacks, then it is time (2001-03-15) to raise the third question (which is a double one):

Where to start and when?

Many people have answered to this (double)question and the answers are too many to render here so you have to read or find them out there in different media. Most answers don't mention any precise time but they include however the kids so there is hope for the earth and thereby even for human beings and all others who live here. Now it's time for our last question which is raised today, on 12:th of May, year 2001:

What are you going to do by yourself to help us all (including yourself) on this planet?



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Sources:

Official reports
TV (Swedish public services TV, TV4)
Radio (Swedish public services radio)
Newspapers (Göteborgs-posten, Aftonbladet, GT/Expressen,
Metro, Arbetet, Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet)
Web-news agency (Swedish CNN)