25.4 C
Doha
Sunday, April 18, 2021

Qatar court sentences gas blast defendants to two to five-year jail terms

-

Aftermath of last year's explosion at Istanbul restaurant.
Aftermath of last year’s explosion at Istanbul restaurant.

A lower criminal court in Doha today found four men responsible for the deaths of 11 people killed in a restaurant gas explosion last year, and has ordered them to serve time in prison.

The fatal blast, which occurred last February, ripped through Istanbul Restaurant – a Turkish eatery located in a petrol station complex next to Landmark Mall– and also injured 42 others.

Aftermath of Istanbul restaurant explosion
Aftermath of Istanbul restaurant explosion

The restaurant was closed at the time, but an investigation found that the gas leading to a pizza oven had been left on overnight and was ignited by a spark from a nearby refrigerator.

In addition to jail time for the defendants, the court ordered blood money be paid to the relatives of the deceased, and compensation to the injured in amounts that varied from QR600 to QR12,000.

The four who were convicted had faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, involuntary/accidental harm and the damaging of property belonging to others. They include:

  • A Woqod supervisor accused of failing to tell the company’s distribution department to stop supplying the restaurant with gas as maintenance work was carried out there;
  • A Qatar Gas supervisor accused of connecting the restaurant’s new gas line without seeking a safety compliance certificate;
  • The restaurant’s baker, who is alleged to have failed to turn off the gas valve of the oven; and
  • The restaurant’s accountant, who is accused of not checking to make sure all the gas valves in the restaurant were securely closed before leaving for the night.

The first two defendants were ordered to serve five years in jail, and the restaurant employees face two-year terms.

Defense

Last month, defense attorneys argued that the prosecutor had failed to arrest “the real culprit.”

Lower criminal court in Doha
Lower criminal court in Doha

During his closing arguments, an attorney representing the Qatar Gas employee argued that his client wasn’t the one who connected the gas line, and that the fault lies with the restaurant’s manager, who instructed one of his employees to hook up the gas.

Meanwhile, prosectors alleged that the Woqod supervisor should have stopped new gas delivers to the restaurant because it did not have the proper safety certificates. He failed to do this however, and Woqod refilled the restaurant’s 1,000-liter rooftop tank the morning of the explosion.

But last month, his lawyer argued that there was no relationship between his client’s actions and the explosion and asked that he be found not guilty.

Looking forward

After handing down the verdict this morning, the criminal court also referred various claims to Qatar’s civil court system, a necessary step to pursue financial compensation lawsuits.

A scene from the 2014 restaurant explosion.
A scene from the 2014 restaurant explosion.

The cases are being filed by lawyers representing victims of the explosions, their families and the owners of property damaged in the blast.

While the monetary value of each claim is not known, one lawyer previously said he was seeking QR15.12 million (US$4.15 million). That suggests the total sum sought by all claimants is much higher.

The defendants maintained their innocence throughout the trial and will likely pursue appeals, but those won’t be handled until after the summer break is finished and court resumes in the fall.

Thoughts?

4 COMMENTS

Subscribe
Notify of
4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Misha
Misha
5 years ago

I’m confused as to what actually happened. On one hand the gas was kept on by the baker but on the otherhand there was maintenance so the gas supply shouldn’t have been refilled. if maintenance work was being done in the restaurant why would the baker turn on the oven. Did I misunderstand something?

I agree people should be responsible for their actions but as long as people are briefed on their jobs and warned about the consequences of not following safety procedures. I’m not sure if this is the case for the individuals of this incident but I fear most don’t realize this in the jobs they have (especially blue collar workers).

Here someone always has to be blamed during fatalities unfortunately it is not necessarily the right people.

I still remember the poor bus driver who was jailed when the little girl was left behind on the bus after falling asleep and died. The bus attendent was responsible of making sure the kids got off the bus but she was absent and a substitute wasn’t provided. So the bus driver was blamed despite it not being his job responsibility.

A version of this could happen in many kinds of jobs here so be careful.

kdl
kdl
5 years ago

What are the job responsibilities of an accountant? Why the accountant had to check the gas valves?! Then who checks the accounts?

KK
KK
5 years ago

..and the villagio mall criminals are still enjoying freedom. How could that be ?

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago

Think about your gas oven at home. Do you ever have to shut off a gas valve at night? No you don’t because it has a thermocouple attached to an automatic gas shut off valve, and the minute the gas flame dies the valve closes and the gas shuts off. That is no different to an oven used in commercial premises. Do the regulations in Qatar demand an automatic gas valve, and if not why not? And if they do then what about the guy who chose the oven, who along with the installer would be more culpable than any of the restaurant workers who by human error failed to shut off a manual valve at night.

Related Articles

- Advertisment -

Most Read

Subscribe to Doha News below!

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.