Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a journalist based in Auckland.

Doha mall blaze families issue plea for justice

From left, Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, age 2, died in a fire at the Villagio shopping Mall in Doha, Qatar. Photo / File
From left, Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, age 2, died in a fire at the Villagio shopping Mall in Doha, Qatar. Photo / File

The parents of triplets who died in the Doha mall fire have made an emotional plea for justice after the trial over their deaths was delayed for a third time.

Martin and Jane Weekes say their pain grows greater every day as they wait for answers over the deaths of two-year-olds Lillie, Jackson and Willsher.

They have penned a letter with the parents of 10 other children who died inside the mall's Gympanzee nursery in May, pleading for answers "so our children did not die in vain".

The criminal trial in Qatar to determine who was responsible for the Villagio Mall blaze has already been been postponed twice because neither nursery owner Iman Al-Kuwari nor her husband were present.

A third attempt on Tuesday failed after Ms Al-Kuwari again did not turn up.

The families' letter said the response in the five long months since the fire had made the "avoidable tragedy" worse.

"We still have the same questions. And every day we wait to get answers. And every day our pain is greater."

The victims had shown more respect to the legal system than many of the defendants - including Ms Al-Kuwari, who they "once trusted with the lives of our children and some once considered a friend".

"Does she not have any humanity? This is unacceptable. It is hurtful to us. It is making our grief and pain worse.

"It is making us question the legitimacy of the system that we have been asked to depend on to get answers."

The families said the world was watching and waiting to see the Qatari justice system "stand up for those innocents that died so cruelly".

"This isn't just about getting justice for all of those who died - our children, the teachers, and the rescuers ... It is essential that everyone learns what happened, what went wrong and more importantly to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"If we can't get answers from the courts we will continue to fight every day to get the answers we deserve, and the answers you and the world need to know so our children did not die in vain."

Officials reportedly said the court would proceed with the hearing on November 13, regardless of whether Ms Al-Kuwari attends.

An initial report, completed in June, found negligence by many parties led to the blaze.

- APNZ

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