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Doha trial reveals 'heartbreaking' failings

Thursday 20 Dec 2012 5:33 p.m.

The parents of the Kiwi triplets who were killed in the Doha mall fire say hearing of the failings that killed their children is overwhelming.

The Weekes triplets died alongside 16 other people when the Villaggio Mall was engulfed in smoke.

Today, a Qatari court heard the mall had numerous shortcomings that contributed to the deaths.

For the Weekes family, the stress of dealing with losing three children shows clearly, but knowing it should've never happened is almost too much to bear.

“I totally believe that every one of the defendants is responsible in some way,” says Jane Weekes. “There are so many different failings; it's people who failed the children and failed us by not doing what they were supposed to."

The owners of the mall, the childcare centre and a government official are all on trial for failures which resulted in 19 deaths.

“It's not a mistake when you know a building code has been breached time and time again - that's negligence,” says Martin Weekes.

According to Qatar Civil Defence, who gave evidence on day one of the trial:

  • the mall had been repeatedly fined for using flammable paint;
  • mall owners ignored requests to maintain fire alarms and sprinklers;
  • firefighters were not properly trained to handle the fire.

“Such systemic failure in terms of design, in terms of building material and monitoring and the regulatory side - it's a real concern that the mall is still operating,” says Mr Weekes.

The couple are relieved seven months on they're finally getting some answers, but are struggling to comprehend how there were such major failings.

“It's beyond heartbreaking to know that the authorities were aware that parts of the mall were unsafe with things like the paint being used, but continued to let it operate and not let anyone be aware what it was like is horrific - it's such a needless thing to happen. Fires happen but people don't need to die like they did,” says Ms Weekes.

Without their children, Christmas is going to be especially hard.

“There's so many things we would've liked to do with the kids this Christmas - we had an amazing time last year. It really feels like the polar opposite this year of what last year was like.”

The Weekes say every parent should hold their child a little tighter for them this Christmas.

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