Directors convicted over Dutch fireworks blast


Owners of a Dutch fireworks warehouse that exploded nearly two years ago killing 20 people, were convicted today of breaking safety rules but were not found guilty of culpable homicide, a court said.

Both men have already spent three months in jail and will have the next three months of their sentence suspended. The court also fined Bakker and Pater $1,980 for illegal trade in fireworks.

"The court considers it not proven that there is a link between the proven violations of permit regulations and the fact that a fire on the grounds of the company could expand and lead to explosions, which resulted in the death of at least 20 people," the court said.

The explosion at the SE Fireworks warehouse near the center of the eastern Dutch city of Enschede ripped through a residential area on a Saturday afternoon in May 2000.

As well as killing 20 people, the explosion injured nearly 1,000 and leveled more than 400 homes.

Dutch media reported Pater was unlikely to appeal against the ruling, while Bakker was still undecided.