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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Gas blast case adjourned after defense requests translators

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Istanbul accident

Editor’s note: Several local journalists attended yesterday’s court hearing. At the end of the session, the judge instructed reporters to submit their stories for approval prior to publishing. The reporters struck a deal in which one journalist submitted the major talking points of what happened.

Judge Abdullah Al Emadi approved most of the reporting, but said one part must be omitted because it “was not relevant to the case.” Doha News will adhere to the court ban on this information for now.


With reporting from Riham Sheble

Four men facing jail time in Qatar after 11 people died in a gas explosion this year have had their case postponed because two of the defendants do not have court translators.

During the session yesterday – the second so far – charges were read out against the four residents, who were given a chance to say whether they pleaded guilty or not guilty.

The prosecutor listed three counts:

  • Involuntary manslaughter (also known as accidental murder) of 11 people due to the negligence and recklessness of not carrying out their duties diligently;
  • Involuntary/accidental harm inflicted on the injured, which initially tallied at 35, but now stands at 42 people; and
  • The damaging of property and vehicles belonging to others.

One of the men on trial is a foreman for Woqod (an Indian expat), one is a supervisor for the Qatar Gas Group (an expat from Egypt), and two others are Turkish employees who worked for Istanbul Restaurant, where the blast originated.

They were initially jailed following the blast in late February, but ordered released on their own recognizance during the first court hearing last month. However, they are not allowed to leave the country while the case proceeds.

The first two defendants denied the charges in court today, with the Woqod employee speaking through a translator.

However, the two Turkish defendants did not speak English or Arabic, and no Turkish translators were present in the court, nor any officials from the Turkish embassy. The judge therefore adjourned the trial to May 21 to get in touch with the embassy, and requested that they supply a translator.

Speaking to Doha News today, a senior Turkish embassy official said they will send a translator once they heard from the court. He added that no representatives have been in court because they are short-staffed on employees who speak Arabic, the language that the court proceedings are conducted in.

Additionally, he said embassy officials were not asked to be present during the interrogation of the two Turkish defendants, but that prosecutors typically have their own translators during this time.

Defense lawyers also asked for access to the CCTV footage on the day of the blast.

In the previous session, the judge had asked for the injured parties to attend the court hearings. Five men injured in the blast did appear, and were asked to present medical documents in Arabic stating the extent of their injuries.

Any other people injured in the blast are also invited to attend the hearings and present their documents.

What happened

The explosion took place inside of a petrol station complex in Duhail (near Landmark Mall) on Feb. 27. The petrol station remains closed today, and several businesses are in the process of repairing their shops.

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.

Officials from the Ministry of Interior previously stated that the blast was caused by a pizza oven that was not properly turned off.

The subsequent leaking liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which is supplied by Woqod, was apparently ignited by the electrical current in the restaurant’s refrigerator, officials said at the time.

Both the baker at the restaurant and an accountant who is responsible for locking up the eatery at night are on trial for this alleged oversight.

The Woqod supervisor is charged with failing to tell the company’s distribution department to stop the restaurant’s gas supply as maintenance work was carried out there; and the Qatar Gas supervisor allegedly connected the restaurant’s new gas line without seeking a safety compliance certificate.

Thoughts?

17 COMMENTS

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Shaiju
7 years ago

Approval? for truth? *Editor’s note*

Mathieu
Mathieu
7 years ago

Did I read censorship on the disclaimer? (not to undermine the story but hey!)

K Abdulghani
K Abdulghani
7 years ago

I think the word accountant should be replaced with “cashier”. It’s an insult to accounting professional with chartered status having responsibility to lock up a restaurant which is practically non-existent in many parts of the world. I believe arabic translation of cashier can also literally mean accountant and so the choice of word.

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Curiosity Killed the Cat
7 years ago

The administration side of court proceedings here is embarrassing and a disgrace. This could of been managed out of court time so everyone can show up on the day and get things underway. To have something so easily dealt with, waste a huge amount of time/money/energy is ridiculous and unprofessional.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago

Shows how little you know.. Courts don’t check everyone’s calendar to see when their available.. This isn’t a dinner date.. Also not showing up is a regular delay tactic used by most accused.. I believe if you don’t show up for two court dates or if the trial is postponed twice then their is a police enforced court order for you to attend.. Also not have a translator is another delay tactic… Believe me when the trial is over the defendants lawyer will attack the creditability of the translator and ask for a retrial

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Curiosity Killed the Cat
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

You’re are right I don’t know about courts in Qatar but I do know about being before a judge in an Australian court. If had tried any of the above or had not been prepared or had not read the court documents (which specify “do you need a translator to attend court?) I would of been in big trouble and possibly charged. There are lots of things that can be done on the “sides” to make sure hearings run smoothly and quickly so as to not clog up the system with simple administration matters. You can’t tell me it’s not obvious that the men needed a translator before what… 20 people’s time is wasted including judges, defendants, lawyers, witnesses etc.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

And so the Villagio defendants are where? How many have they missed?

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

So they don’t speak either English or Arabic, then how are they supposed to follow the safety rules at their establishment? Whoever recruited them should be found neglient as well.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

It’s their job to learn the language and the rule of law of the host country. Not the state’s job. They are all recruited by other Turks ..

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

That’s exactly my point, if you don’t have either basic Arabic or English then you cannot expect to reach the high safety standards Qatar expects.

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

the, lol, high,lol…sorry i can’ t finish lolololol…

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Considering the majority owner of all businesses here is a Qatari would it not fall on him or her?

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

The most disturbing aspect of this case is the judge required the journalists to submit their reports for ‘approval’ before publishing. I think the judge should be more concerned with the case in front of him rather than censoring the media.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
7 years ago

“they are short-staffed on employees who speak Arabic, the language that the court proceedings are conducted in.”

an embassy in an arabic country doesn’t have enough employees that speak arabic? this is an entire new level of fail

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago

I sure would like to make up my own mind of what’s relevant and what’s not.

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
7 years ago

If the turk could not speak english or arabic, then in which language did they interact with their customers

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
7 years ago

Most of the turkish people I see here working in shawarma shops can speak and understand both english or arabic

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