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Qatar judge exonerates Villaggio fire defendants; Families storm out

Author: Peter Kovessy & Riham Sheble, Doha News (Qatar), Published on: 26 October 2015

Qatar’s Court of Appeal today has thrown out the conviction of five individuals held responsible for the deadly May 2012 Villaggio Mall fire, but found the company that owns the shopping center guilty of involuntary manslaughter…The blaze, which started inside a sporting goods store, killed 19 people, including 13 children.  All of the victims suffocated inside the Gympanzee daycare…In his ruling, the judge said he was throwing out all the testimony given by family members of the victims during the initial criminal trial that led to a guilty verdict…Four people had appealed a June 2013 involuntary manslaughter conviction by Qatar’s lower criminal court, after each was sentenced to the maximum six years in prison…In 2013, a lower court ordered the defendants’ insurance companies to pay the blood money to each victim’s family, but many of those families continued to wait for the money, pending the appeal’s outcome…Meanwhile, the multi-million dollar lawsuits filed against Villaggio’s architects, developers, consultants and management firm, in addition to several other companies based in the US and Qatar are ongoing, but have been delayed by defendants failing to show up for hearings…

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