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Three on manslaughter charges over ‘petrol fire explosion’

Rubble: Emergency crews at the scene after the blast ripped apart shop and flat, killing five PICTURE: PA

THREE men appeared in court yesterday charged with manslaughter following an explosion above a shop that killed five people.

Arkan Ali, 37, Hawkar Hassan, 32, and store owner Aram Kurd, 33, allegedly started a fire at the store using petrol.

They spoke only to confirm their names, ages and addresses during a 30-minute hearing before magistrates.

They were held after an explosion destroyed a small supermarket and two-storey flat in Leicester’s Hinckley Road on February 22.

Shane Rajoobeer, 18, his 17-year-old brother Sean, and Leah Beth Reek, 18 — Shane’s girlfriend — were in the upstairs flat and all died in the blast.

Victims: Leah Beth Reek (above), Viktorija Ljevleva (below), and teenage brothers Sean and Shane Rajoobeer with their mother Mary (bottom)

Viktorija Ljevleva, 22, who was working in the shop at the time, was also killed. The fifth victim is believed to be the brothers’ 46-year-old mother Mary Rajoobeer.

The defendants, who also face separate charges of arson with intent to endanger life, were not required to enter pleas.

Ali, from Oldham, Hassan, from Coventry, and Kurd, from Leicester, followed proceedings through a Kurdish interpreter. The trio were remanded in custody until April 3.

Leicestershire Police are appealing for information from anyone who may have seen people ‘coming and going’ into the shop before the blast.

Another man was held on Sunday on suspicion of manslaughter while two others arrested on Friday have been released under investigation.