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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Villaggio fire hearing adjourned a third time; officials say case will proceed Nov. 13

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A criminal hearing to determine responsibility for the 19 deaths in the Villaggio fire nearly five months ago was postponed for a third time this morning after one of the owners of Gympanzee did not attend.

But the court will proceed with the hearing on Nov. 13, with or without Iman al Kuwari, officials said.

All other defendants, including Gympanzee’s co-owner and Al Kuwari’s husband Sheikh Ali Bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s Ambassador to Belgium, as well as representatives of Villaggio, an insurance company, the Ministry of Business and Trade and Civil Defense, were present.

Several embassy officials from various countries, including South Africa, France and the US, also attended.

Officials said Al Kuwari will be presented with another notice to turn up to court or appoint a representative, but if she does not attend next month’s hearing, a verdict will be issued in absentia.

The hearing was previously postponed twice after some of the defendants did not turn up to the Lower Criminal Court in Al Sadd.

Several family members of the victims who attended the hearing were visibly upset by the adjournment.

“I thought this was a priority,” said Louie Aban, husband of Maribel Orosco, one of four teachers killed in the fire. “But it’s not a priority.”

Credit: Photo by Shabina S. Khatri

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