Doha tragedy: daycare centre owner in court

Last updated 06:55 30/11/2012
TRAGIC LOSS: The New Zealand two-year-olds - Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes - were among 13 children who died in the Villaggio Mall blaze on May 28.
JANE WEEKES

TRAGIC LOSS: The New Zealand two-year-olds - Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes - were among 13 children who died in the Villaggio Mall blaze on May 28.

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The owner of a Doha daycare centre that burnt down, killing 19 people including New Zealand triplets, has finally appeared in court - but grieving relatives face yet more delays.

All defendants pleaded not guilty when they appeared in a Doha court yesterday, Doha News reports.

But the trial, which has already faced multiple delays when the daycare centre's owner - Iman Al Kuwari - failed to show, was put off till December 9 after defence lawyers asked for charges to be brought against Nike Corporation, the owner of the shop in the Villaggio where the fire began in May.

That fire killed Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes, aged 2, from Wellington.

Their mother, Jane Weekes, recently wrote a harrowing account of the deadly day and being told the triplets were dead.

''It's over, your children are dead, here's the proof, a photo. We are too busy today to let you hold them and kiss their still warm cheeks goodbye.

''I remember pleading, please, please let me see my babies.

''But no. Make an appointment and you can come back tomorrow.''

Prosecutors yesterday opposed the move in court to charge Nike but judges agreed to consider it, Doha News said.

According to the Qatar fire investigation report: ''The fire began in the mezzanine at Nike sportswear store due to a faulty electrical wiring in the fluorescent light, which led to the ignition of its plastics components before falling to the goods made by flammable materials."

While Nike employees failed to put the fire out and the existence of sprinklers in the store could not be confirmed, the investigation also found fault with the wider mall, in which security failed to control the fire.

It concluded a "lack of adherence to required laws, systems, and measure by all concerned parties to different degree. This includes adherence to design, licence, and safety conditions, which contributed to the Villaggio catastrophe."

Doha News said emotions ran high among relatives of the dead yesterday reacting to the further delay.

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