Father seeks answers on triplets' death

TOM HUNT
Last updated 14:05 21/09/2012
Villagio Mall Doha
Fadi Al-Assaad

People walk inside Villagio Mall, located in a popular shopping area in Doha's west end. The upscale mall had its first opening on Thursday since May 28, 2012, when at least 19 people were killed, including 13 children, in a fire that broke out near a childcare area at the mall in the Qatari capital.

Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes
THE WEEKES TRIPLETS: Lillie, Jackson and Willsher.

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A grieving father will return to work for the government refusing to release details of the death of his triplets.

A fire at the Villaggio Mall in Doha, Qatar, claimed 19 lives including 13 children on May 28.

The mall reopened today to the disappointment of the grieving families who said they still had no answers about the fire.

Martin Weekes' three two-year-old triplets, Lillie, Jackson and Willsher from Wellington, died in the blaze.

He was "incredibly disappointed" the mall had decided to open.

"Still, to this day - we are talking four months - we have got no information on what happened," Mr Weekes said.

He and wife Jane were on extended bereavement leave but he would eventually return to his job as group senior advisor to the Qatar government media business.

Mr Weekes said the government was likely restricted in the details it could release because the court case into the fire was ongoing.

However, a resolution to the case had been held up by the mall's owners failing to turn up at court, he said.

He said the Government controlled the answers families needed and he was "very disappointed" it had not supplied any information.

Asked if it would be hard to return, Mr Weekes said: "Time will tell."

Speaking from San Francisco, where he was returning to New Zealand from Europe, he said he had tried to get answers from the Qatar Government through letters and official channels about the fire.

Both avenues had failed, as had efforts by the New Zealand Government to get information.

Every day he was reminded of his three young children.

"Days like this come and it's a real knock. It’s a real setback," he said.

The loss would always stay with them, he said.

"Life continues. You have to try to find a way to make it continue."

Mr Weekes had three children from a previous marriage, aged 12, 14, 16.

The 14-year-old girl, Tatjana, had been living with them in Qatar. She was now back at school in Auckland with her brother and sister.

Mr Weekes said he and his wife would eventually return to New Zealand.

The joint letter from the families said they found out about the mall reopening from media reports.

"Whilst we understand that this day had to come, we are angry that not one representative from Villaggio or the Government has had the respect to contact us in advance to explain this decision.

‘‘We are angered that Villaggio has not even had the courtesy to invite us to grieve for our children in private at the location they died. The owners and the management should be ashamed.’’

Those responsible must face justice, the letter said.

‘‘It is unacceptable that as of today the families have had zero communication from the Government. We have legitimate questions to be answered.’’

It has been reported the families have asked people to boycott the mall.

In the letter, they asked those who did return to: "Remember the memories of those who died - including our 13 most precious children.

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"Remember those who died trying to save our children. And remember the negligence of Villaggio and others in allowing this to happen. And remember that justice has not been done."

Contact Tom Hunt
Email: tom.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @tomdom76

- The Dominion Post

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