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Posted On: 6 September 2013 11:21 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Not many parents keen to attend Villaggio appeal trial

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Not many parents who lost their children in the tragic Villaggio Mall fire in May 2012 are keen to attend the first appeal hearing in the case on September 16, a Monday. Although the courts are closed for the summer and reopen on October 1, emergency hearings in some cases take place during the two-month break. The appeal hearing in the blaze case was first slated for September 12 but a parent said yesterday it had been put off to September 16. The date could not be confirmed by this newspaper independently, but the parent said he had received an email from a reliable source about the hearing. He said he and several other parents might not attend the court since the convicts would be pleading to make their sentences lighter. To recall, four of the seven defendants in the case were handed down six-year jail terms while a fifth one was sentenced to five years in prison by a lower criminal court late last June. The case went in appeal. A hearing by the lower court was also originally slated to begin early in September 2012 but kicked off much later as two prime accused repeatedly failed to appear in court. The parent, however, said he and others would be keeping track of the hearings. He said he and other parents had formed an informal group after they met at the Family Consultancy Centre following the blaze. “We were invited by the centre for counselling. “After that, we exchanged our mobile phone numbers and email addresses and decided to set up a group,” said the parent. The group actively coordinated with the lawyers during the trial by the lower court, and decisions were taken unanimously. Two Spanish families, one which lost triplets, have since moved out of Qatar and are not part of the group anymore, he said. The families that lost their children come from different nationalities that, apart from the two Spanish ones, include a Chinese, French, a South African, an Egyptian and a New Zealander, among others. The New Zealanders have also left Doha for good but are in touch with the group through emails. A close friend of one of the families acts as a contact person for the group, who they prefer to call the ‘public relations man’. “He is the one who sends us emails and SMSs informing us about court hearings,” said the parent. “We got the SMS about the appeal hearing about three days ago.”