Villaggio Mall lawsuit (re fatal fire, Qatar)


In September 2012, the public prosecutor in Qatar brought a criminal case against seven individuals for their alleged involvement in the deaths of 19 people, including 13 children, in a fire at Villaggio Mall in Qatar, on 28 May 2012.

The defendants are: the two co-owners of the Gympanzee nursery caring for the children who died; the chairman and manager of Villaggio Mall and two other members of staff; and an official from the Ministry of Trade and Business responsible for the licensing of the nursery.

The prosecutor argued that the defendants failed to comply with obligatory health and safety requirements and failed to ensure that the nursery was appropriately licensed to operate.  The defendants denied these claims.  Some defendants argued that appropriate safety systems were in place, whilst others argued that the athletic company Nike should be implicated because a government-led investigation found that the fire was caused by faulty electrical wiring in a Nike store.

A lower criminal court handed down a judgment in June 2013.  The co-owners of the nursery and the chairman and manager of Villaggio Mall were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison each.  They were also ordered to pay 200,000 Qatari Riyals (around $54 924) to each of the victims’ families, as compensation.  The official from the Ministry of Trade and Business was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison.  The two other defendants were cleared of all charges.  The criminal court referred the case to the civil court to decide on further financial compensation.

In November 2013, the defendants filed an appeal.

On Thursday 20 May 2015, the families of the victims file new lawsuits in USA and Qatar alleging mall's construction and management firms were negligent.

On 26 October 2015, a Court of Appeal overturned the trial court’s manslaughter conviction. The judge threw out the testimony from the family members that led to the guilty verdict, arguing that plaintiffs could not be witnesses in the same case. He found that the company that owns the shopping centre to be guilty of involuntary manslaughter, which means the family members can claim compensation. In November 2015, Qatar's Attorney General ordered prosecutors to file an appeal of the verdict.

In February 2016, Qatar's highest court, the Court of Cassation overturned the appeals court decision of acquitting the manager of the Villaggio Mall and the co-owners of the Gympanzee nursery, and ordered a new trial.

In April 2016, after a new trial, a judge jointly fined the defendants 200,000 Qatari Riyals (around $54 924) for each of the deceased, but decided none of them will face jail time.  In June 2016, Qatar’s general prosecutor appealed the verdict.  In February 2017, Qatar's highest court, the Court of Cassation, ruled that the defendants have to collectively pay blood money of 200,000 Qatari Riyals to the victims’ families.  The decision of this court is final.


- "Court rejects appeal in Villaggio fire case", Gulf Times, 7 Feb 2017
- "Qatar: Prosecutor appeals exoneration of defendants in lawsuit over Villaggio Mall fatal fire", Arabian Business, 22 Jun 2016
- "Parents hope for 'justice' after Qatar court orders Villaggio fire retrial", Peter Kovessy, Doha News (Qatar), 15 Feb 2016
- "Attorney General seeks to appeal Villaggio fire verdict" Gulf Times, 21 Nov 2015
- "Qatar judge exonerates Villaggio fire defendants; Families storm out", Peter Kovessy and Riham Sheble, Doha News, 26 Oct 2015

تأجيل قضية حريق فيلاجيو إلى 30 مارس, أخبار ياهو‎ مكتوب, 15-02-2015 [AR]-
["Consideration of Villaggio fire case delayed until 30 March", Yahoo News Maktoob, 15 Feb 2015]

- “Tensions rise as Villaggio fire appeal hearing drags on”, Shabina S. Khatri and Riham Sheble, Doha News, 22 Dec 2014
- [AR] تأجيل النظر في قضية حريق فيلاجيو إلى 21 ديسمبر,هيثم القباني, الراية (قطر), 28-10-2014
["Consideration of Villaggio fire case delayed until 21 December", Haitham Al Qabani, Al Raya, 28 Oct 2014]
- “Five sentenced to jail over Villaggio blaze”, Peninsula, 21 Jun 2013
- [AR] سجن سفير قطر في بلجيكا وزوجته بقضية حريق فيلاجيو, الشمس (إسرائيل), 20-06-2013
["Qatari ambassador to Belgium and his wife are sentenced to prison in Villaggio fire case", Al Shams (Israel), 20 Jun 2013]
- “Villaggio Fire And The Year After: A Timeline”, JustHere Qatar, 27 May 2013
- “Villaggio fire trial postponed after lawyers ask Nike to be charged; defendants plead not guilty”, Doha News, 29 Nov 2012
- “'Electric fault' started deadly Qatar fire”, Al Jazeera, 13 Jun 2012
- [AR] تحقيق قطري: حريق فيلاجيو ليس مدبرا, الجزير ة (قطر), 2012-06-13
["Qatari investigation: Villaggio fire was not premeditated"], Al Jazeera, 13 Jun 2012
- [AR] توقيف مالك مجمع فيلاجيو التجاري بالدوحة وعدد من المسؤولين به, زابريس (المغرب), 2012-05
["Owner of Villaggio Mall in Doha is arrested, along with several other Mall officials", ZA Press, May 2012]
- “Qatar orders arrest of mall owner and managers over deadly fire”, Al Arabiya with Agencies, 30 May 2012

Qatari government:
- “Press conference on fire at Villagio”, Ministry of Interior (Qatar), 28 May 2012
- [AR] وزارة الداخلية تعقد مؤتمرا صحفيا حول حريق مجمع فلاجيو, وزارة الداخلية (قطر), 2012-05-28
["Ministry of Interior holds press conference on Villaggio Mall fire", Ministry of Interior (Qatar), 28 May 2012]

International Trade Union Confederation:
- “Qatar Villaggio Nursery Fire: Justice Elusive for Victims”, International Trade Union Confederation, 27 May 2013

Doha Centre for Media Freedom:
- “What went wrong with the media coverage of the Villaggio fire?”, Zainab Sultan, Doha Centre for Media Freedom, 30 May 2013


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27 May 2013

Villaggio fire and the year after: a timeline

Author: JustHere Qatar (Qatar)

…The fire at Villaggio claimed 19 lives including 13 children, four nursery staff and two civil defence personnel. The case came up in court 14 times including several postponements; the verdict is expected on June 20 [2013]…Though Villaggio was closed for 115 days, it was reopened without any public statement on action taken. Court proceedings were covered only by The Peninsula and DohaNews locally…JustHere contacted the attorney of the victims, but he didn’t want to comment until the verdict was out…Here’s a timeline of the events that transpired through the…last 12 months…[Also refers to Gympanzee Nursery, Nike]

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29 November 2012

Villaggio fire trial postponed after lawyers ask Nike to be charged; defendants plead not guilty

Author: Doha News (Qatar)

Not guilty…was the plea entered by all defendants in today’s criminal hearing to determine responsibility in the Villaggio fire deaths...But the trial was postponed until Dec. 19 after defense lawyers asked judges to bring charges against Nike…Civil Defense and insurance company representatives were also requested to be added to the list. Prosecutors opposed the move, but judges said it would be taken under consideration…A few weeks after the May 28 fire, Nike released the following statement…: “Nike is deeply saddened by the deaths three weeks ago at the Villagio Mall in Qatar and our sympathies go out to the families involved. Nike is aware that the investigative report into the fire has been completed…and the Nike store, owned and operated by our Middle East distributor, was part of the investigation. Nike is seeking further clarity around a number of elements raised in the report before providing further comment.”…[Also refers to Gympanzee Nursery]

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13 June 2012

'Electric fault' started deadly Qatar fire

Author: Al Jazeera

An…investigation into a fire at a shopping centre in Qatar which left 19 dead…has concluded that the blaze was started by an electricity problem with a faulty spotlight. The Qatar Special Higher Committee concluded its week-long investigation into the fire …[and] found that the child care centre was not licensed by the ministry of Social Affairs, as required by Qatari law…The investigation concluded that the fire started at…a Nike sports goods store after an electricity problem caused a faulty spotlight to catch fire…The technical committee also found shortcomings in the response of the security team at Villaggio, including employees at the Nike store, adding that the lack of good plans to deal with an emergency limited their abilities to contain the fire…The committee only investigated the technical cause of the blaze, leaving the criminal part to public prosecutors.

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Author: (الجزير ة (قطر

خلص تحقيق أجرته السلطات القطرية بشأن الحريق الذي اندلع…بمجمع فيلاجيو إلى أن الحادث…"لم يكن مدبرا"، وأنه …"بدأ في الدور العلوي…بمحل نايكي للملابس الرياضية بسبب خلل كهربائي في موصلات وتجهيزات مصباح الإضاءة (فلوريسنت)"… وبحسب التقرير…فقد "فشل أحد موظفي نايكي وأحد رجال الأمن في فيلاجيو في إطفاء الحريق…فانتشرت النيران…وتسرب الدخان إلى محل جيمبانزي المجاور…".وبالنسبة لملابسات الحادث فقد تبين للجنة أنه "تسود حالة من عدم الالتزام بالقوانين والأنظمة والإجراءات والممارسات المعتمدة بدرجات متفاوتة لدى جميع الأطراف المعنية".ومن مظاهر "عدم الالتزام" -بحسب اللجنة- "متطلبات التصميم والترخيص وشروط السلامة ونظم الحريق".وتضيف اللجنة أن "محل جميبانزي ليس مرخصا من قبل وزارة الشؤون الاجتماعية كحضانة، وبالتالي لم تتوفر فيه شروط السلامة المطلوبة للحضانات. كما لم تتمكن اللجنة من التأكد من وجود رشاشات مياه لإطفاء الحريق في محل نايكي".وتبين للجنة أن "عدم وجود خطط محكمة في فيلاجيو للتعامل مع مثل هذه الكارثة حال دون احتواء الحريق أو الحد من آثاره على الأقل…

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30 May 2012

Qatar orders arrest of mall owner and managers over deadly fire

Author: Al Arabiya (UAE)

Qatar has ordered the arrest of five people involved in the management of a Doha shopping mall ravaged by a fire in which 19 people, mainly children, were killed, the state news agency reported. The report…said that Qatar’s Attorney General…has “ordered the arrest of the Villagio mall owner...its manager and its deputy manager.” It said that warrants had also been issued for the arrests of deputy director of mall security and for the owner of the Gympanzee nursery on the first floor which bore the brunt of the fire and where 13 children and four teachers died. The report did not specify if any charges have been filed against any of the five…Findings from the investigation are expected within a week, and Qatari authorities said late on Monday that a committee would be formed to monitor building safety standards…

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Author: زابريس (المغرب)

تم توقيف مالك مجمع (فيلاجيو) التجاري بالعاصمة الدوحة وعدد من المسؤولين به٬ وذلك في إطار التحقيقات التي تجريها النيابة العامة بشأن الحريق الذي شب به. وذكرت وكالة الأنباء القطرية (قنا)… أن "… النائب العام أمر بحبس كل من مالك مجمع فيلاجيوومالكة الحضانة به ومديره ونائبة مديره ومساعد مدير أمن المجمع".كما أمر النائب العام ب"ضبط وإحضار كل من مدير أمن (فيلاجيو) ومسؤول التراخيص بالوزارة المختصة وآخرين وردت أسماؤهم أثناء التحقيق"…

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28 May 2012

Press conference on fire at Villaggio

Author: Ministry of Interior (Qatar)

H.E. the Minister of State for Interior Affairs…extended his heartfelt condolence to the families of the martyrs who died during a fire breakout at Villagio mall on Monday, 28/5/2012…The Minister pointed out that the concerned authorities represented by Public Prosecution have started investigation. The investigation will identify the causes of the fire and will reveal circumstances led to the incidents and any shortcomings. He further declared that a high-level committee will be formed to follow and review safety requirements in buildings and stressed that there is no exception at expense of people’s lives…[Also refers to Gympanzee Nursery]

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Author: وزارة الداخلية (قطر)

قدم سعادة الشيخ عبد الله بن ناصر بن خليفة آل ثاني وزير الدولة للشئون الداخلية تعازيه لأسر واهالى شهداء حريق مجمع فلاجيو الذي اندلع صباح اليوم الاثنين الموافق 28 / 5 / 2012 وراح ضحيته 19 شخصا بينهم 13 طفلا وأربعة نساء ورجلين من الدفاع المدني... وفي رده على اسئلة الصحفيين... أشار [وزير الدولة للشئون الداخلية]... إلى أن الأجهزة المعنية ممثلة فى النيابة العامة تباشر التحقيقات وهى المعنية بتحديد أسباب الحريق مؤكدا أن التحقيقات ستكشف كافة ملابسات الحادث ....[يشير المقال أيضا إلى جيمبانزي] 

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