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Band called to testify

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Members of the rock group Great White have been subpoenaed by prosecutors and said Tuesday they will appear before a grand jury investigating whether criminal charges should be filed in the nightclub inferno that killed 97 people. The grand jury is expected to convene Wednesday, law enforcement officials said on condition of anonymity.

Band publicist Byron Hontas said the musicians are cooperating with authorities and expect to testify early next week. Investigators are trying to determine who is to blame for the fire that was apparently sparked by the band’s pyrotechnics last Thursday. Flames swept through the West Warwick club, the Station, in a matter of minutes.

The band has said it received approval to use the special effects, but the club’s owners have denied giving permission.

It could not be immediately determined whether the club’s owners, brothers Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, have received subpoenas. Their attorney, Kathleen Hagerty, did not return calls Tuesday, and the attorney general’s office declined comment. Police searched the Narragansett home of Michael Derderian on Sunday, according to a law enforcement source.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch has said he does not believe the Derderians have cooperated with investigators, but spokesman Mike Healey said Tuesday: “We’re not pitting the band against the Derderians.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Don Carcieri said 93 of the 97 bodies have been identified. The governor also said there was a discrepancy between the number of people reported missing and those confirmed dead, and search crews using dogs were expected to go over the charred ruins again to look for bodies. “This is a tough, very, very tough process and the families and the impacts of this thing are rippling throughout the state,” Carcieri said.

The fire also injured nearly 190 people; about 60 remain hospitalized, including 40 in critical condition.

Legal experts and fire investigators said the Derderians or members of the band Great White — or both — could be indicted on such charges as criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter, even murder.

“It is obvious that there was some joint responsibility. Maybe the issue is not which one to charge, but what to charge both with,” said Donald Bliss, president of the National Association of State Fire Marshals and the New Hampshire fire marshal.

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