With reporting from Riham Sheble
During the hearing, lawyers for the defendants, who are reportedly being charged with negligence, requested more time to prepare for the trial. They also asked that their charges be released from jail, where they have been detained for the last 40 days.
A judge granted that request and released the men on their own recognizance, but has imposed a travel ban pending the outcome of the trial.
He also ordered that the families of the deceased and the 35 people injured in the accident be notified of the next hearing so that they can attend court and explain the extent of their injuries, the cost of medical treatment and the length of their recoveries.
One of the men on trial is a supervisor for the Qatar Gas Group (an expat from Egypt), one is a foreman for Woqod (an Indian expat) and two others are Turkish employees who worked for Istanbul Restaurant, where the blast originated.
The explosion took place inside of a petrol station complex in Duhail on Feb. 27. In addition to human losses and injuries, the blast damaged several cars, restaurants and other stores. The petrol station remains closed today, and several businesses are in the process of repairing their shops.
Nobody was inside of the Turkish restaurant 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.
Families and colleagues of the defendants express relief at their release, and rushed out of the courtroom to start the paperwork so that the men could leave today.
The next hearing date is set for May 7.