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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Witness testimony winds down in Villaggio case, closing arguments ahead

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Wednesday marked the 13th hearing and final day of witness testimony in the trial to determine criminal responsibility for the 19 deaths in last year’s fire inside Gympanzee at Villaggio Mall.

Contrary to the expectations of some victims’ relatives, the defendants, which include the Gympanzee co-owners, four Villaggio mall officials and an employee of the Ministry of Business & Trade, did not testify at the hearings.

The court will begin hearing closing arguments on March 27, but a decision is not expected to be made for at least another month and a half. That’s because after oral arguments, both the defense and prosecution will have a month to submit their written documents, which the court must deliberate on before making its decision.

‘Unacceptable’

Speaking to Doha News, parents of some of the 13 children killed in the fire complained that the trial was progressing slowly and expressed concern that their legal battle would continue past the one-year anniversary of the fire.

“It is unacceptable,” one father said. “All of my patience will be gone if it goes past (May 28).”

Martin and Jane Weekes, parents of the New Zealand triplets who were killed last year, said:

Lillie, Jackson & Willsher should have been 3 years old this week. Instead of celebrating their life again we are forced to go through an inhumane process where the people responsible for their deaths seem to have more rights than the victims…

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Shabina S. Khatri

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