Four days after Lauren Patterson, a 24-year-old British expat, went missing in Qatar, the Ministry of Interior has announced that multiple suspects have been arrested in connection with her death.
In a statement just released in Arabic on its website, the MOI said the suspects, involved in the murder of a European woman, have been referred to the Public Prosecutor’s office. It did not say how many people were detained or list their nationalities. Here’s the English version.
Alison Patterson, Lauren’s mother, is reportedly in Doha currently. Days ago, the widow posted this tribute to her daughter:
“She was truly a remarkable girl, my rock, always there for everyone. I know she’s in heaven now in her Daddy’s arms.”
So far, Patterson’s close friends, family members and Qatar’s Ministry of Interior have declined to comment to Doha News or several other media outlets on Patterson’s fate. The British embassy here has not issued any statements beyond the fact that Patterson was missing and they were providing the family consular support.
Although some grim details are being reported in some British newspapers, Doha News has not been able to verify or confirm them, and has chosen not to report the allegations until they can be supported.
For example, despite a tweet (that has since been deleted) sent by a Qatar resident asserting that Patterson was sexually assaulted, killed and dumped outside of La Cigale, employees there emphatically denied to Doha News that any body was found outside of their hotel. No police cordon could be seen, nor any sign of unusual activity outside of the hotel’s dumpster area yesterday morning.
Notably, unlike in the case of the American teacher who was killed here last year, the family of Patterson has not requested help in finding out what happened, but instead has repeatedly asked journalists to leave them in peace.
This week, Patterson’s boyfriend, James Grima, was among the first to sound an alarm about her disappearance. His Facebook post seeking the woman went viral on Sunday, but only hours later he updated his page saying she had died.
This week, he also posted again on Facebook about his loss:
“Although I don’t know if I will ever come to terms with what happened, I have all our funny & beautiful memories that we shared together…”
“I love you so much babe, I really do and I can’t get over the fact that you were taken away so cruelly, it really breaks my heart to think about it.”
But now, both posts speaking of her death have been removed, and Grima’s profile now appears to have been deactivated.
Meanwhile, the lack of information about the case has caused noticeable stress among some Doha residents, especially single women, who wonder whether they are safe here. Though Qatar has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, it has seen a six-fold increase in crime over the past decade due to its growing population.
Whatever happened to Patterson should thus serve as a reminder that people should be cautious in every country, commenters on Doha News have said.
In a post on a Doha News story about the missing teacher, Marisa Marinho said:
“I got flashed in Hyatt Plaza car park last year, midday, pushing a babypram. This sort of thing happens everywhere in the world, but my shock was that I thought it would never happen in Qatar. I decided to go to the police, because there had been reports of a guy alluring children into his car in a nearby school. The police did not even keep my name and phone number. We should look out for each other, that is why I am posting this today.”
And commenter Ivan Brandieswski called for greater transparency:
More deft press handling and pr skill. How hard is it to get one, just one government spokesperson trained to be the public face of the MOI and such? Here’s hoping that the next announcement they make is of an arrest.