Two years since the Villaggio fire, families of victims still await justice
It’s been two years since the day a fire broke out in the Villaggio Mall, claiming the lives of 19 individuals, and the court hearings still continue.
On May 28, 2012, a fire broke out at around 11 am at Gympanzee—a children’s play area. Though the blaze was contained by 1.30pm, 19 lives were lost including 13 children, four nursery staff and two civil defence personnel.
The chase for justice
The court proceedings for the incident began in June 2012, and almost after a year, the verdict was finally out.
In June 2013, a Doha court had sentenced five of the defendants to jail on account of “involuntary manslaughter”. Sheikh Ali Bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s Ambassador to Belgium and co-owner of Gympanzee; Iman Al-Kuwari, daughter of Qatar’s culture minister and co-owner and manager of Gympanzee; Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al-Rabban, Villaggio’s Chairman; and Tzoulios Tzouliou, the Manager of Villaggio will serve six years in prison – the maximum punishment for the charge. Mansour Nasir Fazzaa al-Shahwani from the Ministry of Business and Trade, who was held responsible for granting Gymanzee its permit, has been sentenced to five years.
While the verdict was a sign of hope and relief for the families of victims, the wait for justice isn’t completely over.
Doha News who has been leading the coverage of the Villaggio fire case, has reported that “none of the convicted individuals have started serving jail time, and at least one of the defendants has been free to travel outside Qatar.” The next hearing, they say, will be on June 9.
This is their video marking the second anniversary.