Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Qatar mall fire case: Charged parties ignore court date

L-R: Lillie, Jackson, Willsher Weekes. The triplets died in a fire at the Villagio shopping Mall in Doha Qatar. Photo / Supplied
L-R: Lillie, Jackson, Willsher Weekes. The triplets died in a fire at the Villagio shopping Mall in Doha Qatar. Photo / Supplied

The court case to determine who was responsible for a deadly mall fire in Qatar in which New Zealand triplets were killed has been postponed because two of three parties charged did not turn up to court.

Representatives of the Villaggio Mall attended the hearing, but no one from the Municipality and Gympanzee were there, prompting the hearing to be postponed until next month, Doha News reported.

Attempts to reach the defendants failed because "their phones were off," a source told Doha News.

Nineteen people died in the blaze on May 28, including 13 children.

New Zealand triplets, Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, who were two at the time of the fire, were killed while they attended the mall's nursery, Gympanzee.

Shortly after the fire Qatar police held four Villaggio mall management officials and Iman Al Kuwari, the Qatari owner of Gympanzee, for questioning.

Villaggio has been closed since the fire.

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

It concluded there was negligence by the security team overseeing the complex in responding to the fire.

It also found there was no plan in place to deal with an emergency of that scale and staff not been trained to cope with a fire, Aljazeera reported.

The committee investigating the fire found the childcare centre was not licensed by Qatar's Ministry of Social Affairs, as required by law, meaning it did not have the safety measures required for a nursery.

It said the fire started at the upper floor of a Nike sports store after faulty electrical wiring in a fluorescent light caused a spotlight to catch fire, before rapidly spreading to the adjacent nursery.

While civil defence workers arrived within three minutes of being alerted to the fire, it took them another 30 minutes to learn that children were trapped in the nursery.

The committee made 11 recommendations to prevent or reduce the risk of a repeat fire.

- APNZ

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