Four arrested after deadly Brazilian nightclub fire

Posted: 9:37 AM, Jan 29, 2013
Updated: 2013-01-29 09:37:41-05

(CNN) — Police arrested four people Monday in connection with a nightclub fire that killed 231 people in southern Brazil, CNN affiliate BandNews reported.

Two are club owners and the other two members of the band that was performing, it said.

The detainees will be held initially for five days while authorities investigate Sunday’s blaze in the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, according to Marcos Viana, a police official who spoke with state-run Agencia Brasil. The five-day period can be extended for five more days, the news agency said.

“We concluded that it was necessary to hold them prisoner temporarily, because we need their statements to help us clarify the incident,” Viana said, according to Agencia Brasil.

Police did not identify those arrested.

“We have much work ahead to clarify what happened and identify those responsible,” Viana said, according to the news agency.

Civil police in Santa Maria have questioned 20 other people, it said.

The police chief in the province of Rio Grande do Sul said the investigation is to be divided into three parts: “The first line of inquiry has to do with the documentation: if the property was fit for operation and who the owners are. Are they real, formal owners? We will review all the documentation.

“The second stage of this investigation is expert analysis, which we will apply.

“And thirdly, important in itself, is the witness testimony. So, starting today, we will focus our efforts to the maximum in order to hear those people who were at the property at the time that it caught fire, at the business establishment. I think we’ll get to the bottom of this investigation and, if possible, will identify those responsible by the time we complete this police investigation.”

The governor of Rio Grande do Sul promised that investigators would have all the resources they need to find out who is responsible.

“From the executive office, they will not lack a penny, a document, an action or any other support, so that we can have an inquiry with depth and with the responsibility that it deserves,” Gov. Tarso Genro said.