Portalb.mk: Two months after COVID-19 hospital blaze in Tetovo, Prosecutor’s Office still waiting for forensic reports


The second month since the tragic blaze in the modular COVID-19 hospital in Tetovo has passed, but there are still no results from the investigation into the causes. The general public is still held hostage by the mystery and the questions that the authorities are not giving answers to, Portalb.mk writes.

Regardless of the fact that it has been almost two months since the tragedy, the prosecutors are still waiting for the forensic reports they commissioned, one of them being the forensic report by the German experts.

“The public prosecutors which have been working on the investigation of the causes of the fire in the Tetovo modular COVID-19 hospital are working intensively. The Prosecutor’s Office expects the reports from the commissioned forensic investigations, one of which is the forensic report by the forensic scientists from Germany. As soon as the material and the oral evidence is gathered, and the prosecutors review and analyze it, it will be determined whether there is criminal liability, and afterward the decision about the further proceedings will be made “, says the reply that Portalb.mk received on its questions about the progress of the investigation of the causes of the blaze in the Tetovo COVID-19 modular hospital.

The response from the Prosecutor’s Office that Portalb.mk received on the 14th of October, i.e. 20 days ago, was almost the same.

The Prosecutor’s Office does not reveal the time it will take to finish the procedures, having in mind the sensitivity of the case and the anticipation of the families and all the citizens who wait to find out the truth, although there was the report from the CSI department of the MoI of North Macedonia, which describes how the fire broke out, but does not tell if someone should be prosecuted.

The authorities rushed with the “pardoning” before the investigation is over
Regardless the fact that the investigations are not concluded, immediately after a single police report was released by the Prosecutor’s Office, the prime minister Zoran Zaev himself and his first deputy Artan Grubi immediately went public with “pardoning” from any responsibility their colleagues from the Ministry of Health and proclaiming the case was just a tragic accident.

“There is no reason to locate political or managerial responsibility in Filipche or his deputy Hasani,” Zaev said, with Grubi adding that “it is obviously an accident and a tragic event”.

According to the report of the CSI unit of the MoI, which has been published by the Prosecutor’s Office, the fire was caused by the extension cord a defibrilator was plugged into. However, there is no information about the other details, i.e. other reports were not publicly disclosed.

For example, there is no information who is responsible for the setting up of such an extension cord. Did it meet the applicable standards and were there proper inspections of the electricity system in the modular hospital?

Also, there is still no report from the forensic medicine experts in Germany, who have been supervising the forensics inquests. There are no details about the investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office For Organized Crime and Corruption in connection with all of the modular hospitals and if they fulfil the basic prerequisites for their safety, operation and maintenance.

Questions about the case that are still not answered
To date there is no concrete answer whether there was a fire extinguishing system. The witnesses who managed to escape the horror said that there wasn’t any, but the authorities still haven’t confirmed that. If there was such a system, where it had been located, as the patients couldn’t find it, when it was inspected last time to see if it was functional?

It is still unknown whether the building material for the hospital was fire resistant, although the authorities say the hospital fulfills all the standards. The report includes the reason for the spread of the fire, but it does not mention if the material has been resistant to fire or not.

According to the report of CSI unit, the fire spread quickly due to the fact that the amount of oxygen in the entire hospital had been augmented, also due to the damage of the oxygen distribution system during the fire. And this was facilitated by the fact that the attic has not been constructed with bariers, which would have helped slow down the spread of the fire.

The other issue, which no one so far has taken responsibility for, is that among the victims were two members of the families of the patients, who were giving care to their loved ones.

The chain of events
On the 8th of September at 21:02 hours the COVID19 Center in Tetovo had been engulfed in fire, with 14 people losing their livers (8 women and 6 men aged between 29 and 78, 12 of them patients and 2 members of families of the victims who provided care for them).

On the 10th of September, the minister of health Venko Filipche and his deputy Ilir Hasani, along with the two directors of the Tetovo hospital, Artan Etemi and Florin Besimi, said that they had resigned on ethical grounds. Prime minister Zoran Zaev after a couple of days said that he did not accept the resignations of Filipche, Hasani, Etemi, and Besimi and that they will continue to perform their offices until the investigation ends.

On the 11th of September, with the planting of 14 trees on the Iliria Square, the peaceful march began, organized by the Ballisti football supporters group and other citizens, in honor of the 14 victims who lost their lives as a result of the fire that engulfed the modular COVID-19 hospital in Tetovo.

On the 17th of September, there was protest in Tetovo once again, with the participants calling for responsibility and justice in connection with the fire in the Tetovo modular hospital. The protesters have started their march from the Iliria Square, proceeded to the front of the object of the Municipality of Tetovo, where they had a speech, and then a portion of the citizens hurled eggs to the building, and then marched towards the headquarters of the BDI political party. Four police officers were lightly injured in the course of these protests. Clashes with the police have escalated after a handful of protesters tried to reach the party headquarters of BDI and previously have thrown eggs at the municipal building. Consequently, 5 of the demonstrators were arrested and put in detention.

On the 13th of October, the five arrested people from the protests on the 17th of September, in front of a judge admitted guilt and apologised to the police officers. They were sentenced to 1 year prison sentences, suspended for the next 3 years.

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