Father of Weekes triplets, who perished in Villaggio Fire, says crucial evidence withheld
Qatari authorities have refused to release a report into the mall fire that killed 13 children, the father of two-year old triplets that died told a New Zealand newspaper.
Martin Weekes, whose three children died in the fatal fire in Villaggio Mall in May, said the report has not been submitted as evidence for the court hearing.
“This is the eighth trial and we still don’t have a copy of the investigation report,” he said in an interview with Fairfax Media New Zealand.
“The main piece of critical evidence that the government has produced has not been used in the court, instead you've got vague testimonies from people,” he added.
The hearing into the incident, which was postponed four times after the defendants failed to turn up to court, resumed last week. The next hearing is scheduled for January 30, said the newspaper.
Investigators in June said faulty electrical wiring in a fluorescent light caused the fire but authorities have yet to release full details despite promises to the victims’ families, said Weekes.
Children trapped in the neighbouring Gympanzee nursery were not discovered until half an hour after firefighters arrived at the scene, said the report. The unlicensed nursery did not meet required safety conditions.
Investigators found a “lack of adherence to laws, systems, and measures by all concerned parties to different degrees. This includes adherence to design, license and safety conditions, which contributed to the Villaggio catastrophe,” said the report.
At least five people were arrested as part of the probe, including the daughter of Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage.
Iman Al-Kuwari, who ran the Gympanzee childcare facility in the retail centre, was arrested along with the mall’s manager, assistant manager and the assistant director of security.