LOS ANGELES: The trial of two men charged with deadly negligence over a 2016 fire that killed 36 people in the US state of California ended with an acquittal for one and a mistrial for the other. Derick Almena, the leaseholder of the building known locally as the “Ghost Ship,” a warehouse he had turned into a public space dedicated to music and art, and Max Harris, who helped him manage it, were tried for manslaughter and had faced nearly 40 years in prison.

A boat burns off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, California, in this photo released by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department on Monday. Photo: AFP

The prosecution and the families of the victims, mostly people between the ages of 20 and 30, accused the two men of a series of criminal failures and negligence that they said resulted in the deaths during an electronic music concert in December 2016. After several years of proceedings and two lawsuits, the jury acquitted Harris of all charges, and was deadlocked over those against Almena.

The prosecution is to appear in court next month to say if they want to initiate a new trial against him. Almena had rented the warehouse in Oakland, California three years before the fire and turned it into a collective for artists. He also received rent from at least 25 tenants, according to the prosecution, without having equipped the structure with smoke detectors, alarms or fire-fighting systems. – AFP