PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Former R.I. Attorney General Patrick Lynch has been asked to assist government officials in Brazil as they deal with a deadly nightclub fire that claimed the lives of some 240 people, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
Lynch's trip to Santa Maria, Brazil comes on the 10th anniversary of the deadly Station Nightclub fire that he handled as the state's top prosecutor.
Reached by phone, Lynch confirmed his trip to southern Brazil but declined to be interviewed or provide information about his role in their investigation.
The details of the Kiss Nightclub fire in Brazil are eerily similar to the February 20, 2003 blaze at the Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick that killed 100 people and injured hundreds more.
According to reports, investigators in Brazil say a band member lit off a flare that ignited sound-proofing foam inside the club. Foam also fueled the West Warwick fire after it came into contact with pyrotechnics used as part of a concert by rock band Great White.
Lynch left for Brazil on Monday and is spending a week working with government officials and prosecutors, which will mean he will be in Santa Maria for Wednesday's 10-year anniversary of the deadly Rhode Island blaze.
As attorney general, Lynch charged three people in the wake of the Station Nightclub fire: club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian as well as Great White band manager Dan Biechele who launched the pyrotechnics. They were all charged with 200 counts of manslaughter, two each for the 100 victims who died in the fire.
All three cut a deal with prosecutors and pleaded no contest to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter; the other counts were dismissed as part of the agreement. Jeffrey Derderian avoided jail time but was given three years probation. Michael Derderian and Biechele were sentenced to four years in prison but were granted parole after serving 27 and 16 months respectively.
Some survivors and family members of those who died in the fire expressed outrage that more people didn't face charges.
While Brazil's legal system is vastly different from that of the United States, Lynch has had experience in working with prosecutors internationally as the former president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Though it's unclear what Lynch's role will be in Brazil, the R.I. Attorney General's office handled several areas of the nightclub fire beside the prosecution, including outreach to victim's families, working with lawmakers on strengthening the state's fire code and ultimately releasing evidence from the investigation to the public.
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