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Posted On: 20 June 2013 11:19 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Five Villaggio trial defendants jailed for involuntary manslaughter; two cleared

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A Doha court has today sentenced five of the Villaggio fire trial defendants to jail time for Involuntary Manslaughter, whilst clearing two defendants of all charges. Four have been sentenced to six years in prison, the maximum allowable for the charge. They are: - 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 - Tzoulios Tzouliou, the Manager of Villaggio One further defendant, Mansour Nasir Fazzaa al-Shahwani from the Ministry of Business and Trade, has been sentenced to five years. He was responsible for giving Gympanzee its permit. Two further defendants, Rima Itani, the mall’s Assistant Manager, and Ahmad Muhammad Abdul Rahman, the mall’s Head of Security, have been cleared of all charges. The judge has now referred the case to the country’s civil court so that financial compensation can be decided upon. Appeal rules Sources inside the court have told Doha News that Sheikh Ali Bin Jassim Al Thani and Iman Al-Kuwari left the court room before the verdict was read out. Qatari law says that defendants have two weeks to appeal the verdict, meaning that they can walk free from court until their application for an appeal is accepted or denied. Doha News has been speaking to some of the victims’ families, who say they are “relieved and happy” about the sentencing. Safety lacking On May 28, 2012, 19 expats - including 13 children, four Gympanzee employees and two firefighters - died after smoke from an electrical fire at a nearby shop spread to Gympanzee, trapping its inhabitants and eventually suffocating them. Since that time, the country has been working to shore up safety in public and private spaces, including malls, apartment buildings and children’s nurseries. But according to fire experts interviewed by Doha News, inexperience, a lack of a developed safety culture and a bottom-line mindset have hindered Qatar’s efforts in this regard. For more about the fire, the aftermath and its consequences, see our in-depth report, Villaggio Fire: A Tragedy Silenced. Read more: