Qatar: Judge overturns involuntary manslaughter convictions in Villaggio Mall fire lawsuit

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Article
28 October 2015

Doha fire ruling 'very disappointing' - McCully

Author: New Zealand Herald (NZ)

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says it is "very disappointing" the convictions of five people responsible the Qatar mall fire that killed 2-year-old Kiwi triplets have been thrown out…Nineteen people…died as a fire ripped through the Gympanzee childcare centre in a Doha mall in 2012…A Qatari judge has now thrown out the convictions of four people convicted of involuntary manslaughter and a public servant charged with forgery in relation to the blaze…None of the five people convicted -- including Gympanzee childcare co-owners, the Villagio mall's chairman and manager and a public servant -- will serve any jail time…In the Court of Appeal ruling, Judge Abdalrahman al-Sharafi said he was throwing out all the testimony from family members that led to a guilty verdict, arguing they could not be witnesses and plaintiffs in the same case.  He found the company that owns the shopping centre guilty of manslaughter -- meaning the only avenue left for families is to seek financial compensation...

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Article
27 October 2015

Court of appeal acquits Villaggio fire case accused

Author: NRIcafe (Qatar)

A Doha court of appeal acquitted five persons, who were held responsible by a trial court for the deadly Villaggio mall fire.  However, the judge ruled that the company that owns the shopping centre was guilty of involuntary manslaughter.  The ruling has enabled the families of the victims to seek financial compensation…The court asked the company to arrange with its insurance company and others to pay the blood money…[P]residing judge Abdalrahman al-Sharafi threw out the convictions against the defendants clearing them of several charges.  The judge said he cannot agree with the testimony given by the victims’ family members during the initial trial, arguing that one cannot be a witness and a plaintiff in the same case…The higher court’s verdict running into 154 pages means that no one will go to jail…However, the company has the right, said the court, to file civil lawsuits against its tenants who it thinks were responsible for technical faults that led to the fire...

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Article
26 October 2015

Qatar judge exonerates Villaggio fire defendants; Families storm out

Author: Peter Kovessy & Riham Sheble, Doha News (Qatar)

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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