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Saturday, September 18, 2021

More than a dozen people to testify at Qatar gas blast case in October

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Gas blast

With reporting from Riham Sheble

A lower criminal court in Doha convened this morning to hear two witnesses discuss the events leading to a gas explosion in February that killed 11 people and injured 42 others.

Four men are on trial for what happened, and all have plead not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, involuntary/accidental harm and the damaging of property belonging to others. They are:

  • A foreman for Woqod (an Indian expat);
  • A supervisor for the Qatar Gas Group (an expat from Egypt);
  • And two Turkish employees who worked for Istanbul Restaurant, where the blast originated.

The men were initially jailed after the blast, but are now free pending the verdict. It is unclear if they have returned to work.

The two people who testified today both worked for the Qatar Gas Group, a Woqod contractor with no relation to the state-backed liquified natural gas (LNG) producer.

Communication failure

They spoke about the company’s role in overhauling Istanbul Restaurant’s gas lines so that it would be up to Civil Defense standards, which became stricter following the deadly 2012 Villaggio mall fire.

The Qatar Gas Group was also tasked with outfitting the restaurant with safety precautions, such as an alarm that goes off in the event of a gas leak.

The work was apparently carried out from August 2013 to December 2013. Following a preliminary inspection by Woqod that month, Qatar Gas Group employees said they made requested changes and completed their work by mid-January 2014.

But the witnesses added that they did not know if Woqod conducted any additional inspections to the eatery before it opened, as they did not hear from the company after making the changes.

What happened

The communication breakdown between the two companies may have contributed to the blast, which took place inside of a petrol station complex in Duhail (near Landmark Mall) on Feb. 27.

Istanbul Restaurant was closed and vacant at the time of the accident, and the majority of those killed and injured were eating at the nearby Tasty eatery.

According to a government investigation, the explosion was caused by a pizza oven whose gas had been left on at Istanbul restaurant. The liquified petroleum gas (LPG) was apparently ignited by a spark from a nearby refrigerator inside the eatery.

Because the court will break for the summer soon, it has adjourned the trail until October. During that month, two hearings will take place on Oct. 22 and Oct, 29 so that the more than dozen remaining witnesses can testify.

Among those expected to be heard are representatives of the restaurant and Woqod.

The judge also said that between now and October, the court will get in touch with the injured, asking them to present medical certificates about their physical state.

Thoughts?

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DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago

I am guessing the next story will be that there is a postponement in the trial (or two or ten).

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

I am guessing we will see the final game of the 2022 World Cup before we see this fully resolved.

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
7 years ago
Reply to  Expat Girl

I guess we are lucky the football matches are not like the trials, as we would have the first half in March, the second half in September, assuming everyone turned up again, then hopefully no extra time as that might not be until 2023. If there was a penalty shoot-out we would be lucky to have a final result before 2026 World Cup kicked off.

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago
Reply to  wee_johnnie

Haha good one!! Or if a team shows up to play, but the match is adjourned because the other team claims it needs to appoint new representation (coach) and that new representation needs months to get caught up on the team and study the individuals involved. Or both teams show up only to realize that the match must be postponed because the judge (referee) has decided he wants to take a 2 month holiday.

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago

If the pizza oven was left on at Istanbul restaurant, then why are individuals from Woqod and Qatar Gas Group even charged?

I’ll admit I don’t know any of the details around the case, so there must be more to the story. But I know if I were to leave my oven on at home and there was an incident, I doubt the oven manufacturer, the guy who installed the oven, or the company who gives the oven gas would be charged, because it was my error as the “operator” of that oven. Again I acknowledge there must be more to the story, but that is my opinion based on what is presented to me.

Big Sumo
Big Sumo
7 years ago
Reply to  Expat Girl

There are safety systems which are supposed to prevent loss of life. Like if you make a mistake driving, the airbag is supposed to be deployed and potentially save your life. if it didn’t in all cars like yours the manufacturer should be at fault. Commercial kitchens are usually fitted out with many expensive systems which prevent or minimise loss of life. Automatic gas shut off, automatic foam deployment, automatic shut down, heat sensors, gas detectors etc etc. These need to be installed by competent people, inspected by competent people, used by competent people and maintained by competent people. When all these safety systems are in place and working, you leaving the oven on mistakenly doesn’t kill 11 people.

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago
Reply to  Big Sumo

I agree 100% with what you are saying, but it just isn’t clear who’s responsibility it is to ensure that such a loss prevention mechanism is in place.

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
7 years ago
Reply to  Expat Girl

Woqod and Qatar Gas forced a new “gas safety system”, they supplied, installed,and inspected the whole thing to the restaurant.

From the article:

They spoke about the company’s role in overhauling Istanbul Restaurant’s gas lines so that it would be up to Civil Defense standards, which became stricter following the deadly 2012 Villaggio mall fire.

The Qatar Gas Group was also tasked with outfitting the restaurant with safety precautions, such as an alarm that goes off in the event of a gas leak.

The work was apparently carried out from August 2013 to December 2013. Following a preliminary inspection by Woqod that month, Qatar Gas Group employees said they made requested changes and completed their work by mid-January 2014.

But the witnesses added that they did not know if Woqod conducted any additional inspections to the eatery before it opened, as they did not hear from the company after making the changes.

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago
Reply to  osamaalassiry

Thank you for replying osamaalassiry. I guess there are just so many details that are still unclear to me, so I’m having a hard time determining who I feel is ultimately “responsible”. Your comment helped, and the good news is that it is NOT my job to determine who is responsible! And the people whose job it is to determine will have all the details, so I’ll just see how this all plays out.

Martin
Martin
7 years ago

The Villaggio Appeal, The Lauren Paterson case, the murder trial of the teacher Ms Brown, the JCC staff trial, the Huangs case and now this all delayed till end October/November – more than 3 months away.
Can someone please help me understand why does justice take so long here and why are trials not set for consecutive days until they end rather than one days hearing every 1-3 months?

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