The Attorney General HE Dr. Ali bin Fetais al-Marri on Saturday ordered the launch of an appeal process, seeking a review of the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the Villaggio mall fire case.
A Doha court of appeal had last month acquitted five persons, who were held responsible for the deadly fire by a trial court.
HE Dr. al-Marri has asked the Prosecution of Cassation to prepare a memorandum detailing the reasons cited for the ruling that acquitted all the defendants in the case, and submit it to him before filing the appeal for annulment before the apex court, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) said.
In one of the worst tragedies to hit Qatar, 19 persons including 13 children perished in the blaze that engulfed the Gympanzee daycare at the upmarket shopping complex in May 2012. Among the victims were four staff of the Gympanzee and two firemen.
The Court of Appeal stipulated that the conviction will be under the provisions of Articles (1) and (1/43) of the Resolution of the Minister of Civil Service & Housing Affairs No. (20) of 2005.
Accordingly, it asked the Real Estate Projects Company to pay a fine of QR 20,000 and "to pay in solidarity with its partners and the insurance company the Diyya (financial compensation) of QR 200,000 to the heirs of each of the victims", QNA said.
The four defendants who were found guilty by the criminal court and sentenced to the maximum six years in prison were Sheikh Ali bin Jassim al-Thani, co-owner of Gympanzee, Iman al-Kuwari, co-owner and manager of Gympanzee, Abdul Aziz Mohamed al-Rabban, Villaggio’s chairman and Tzoulios Tzouliou, Villaggio’s manager.
Mansour Nasir Fazzaa al-Shahwani, a municipal employee, was found guilty of forgery by the lower court and sentenced to five years in jail for providing a licence to Gympanzee. He was also exonerated.
Overturning the convictions, presiding judge Abdalrahman al-Sharafi of the Appeal Court said he cannot agree with the testimony given by the victims’ family members during the initial trial, arguing that one cannot be a witness as well as a plaintiff in the same case.
The judge also felt that the Gympanzee staff were not quick enough to act in a situation like a fire.
The appeal court judge said Gympanzee was not a nursery and concluded that it was an entertainment centre. He said the daycare marketed itself as a centre for children aged 12 and under.