The last picture of the Weekes triplets shows Winkie
(left), Jackson and Lillie at the daycare in the Doha mall
hours before the deadly inferno. Photo / Supplied
The owner of the Doha childcare centre where Kiwi
triplets died in a blaze has pleaded not guilty to criminal
charges after finally appearing in court following four
But the trial will not go ahead until December 19 after
defence lawyers asked for charges to be brought against Nike,
whose shop was where the fire in the Villaggio mall started
almost six months ago, Doha News reported.
Nineteen people were killed in the fire including
two-year-old triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes.
They were among 13 children and four teachers who died in the
mall's the Gympanzee childcare centre.
All the defendants charged over the deaths pleaded not guilty
when they appeared in a Qatari court, Doha News reported.
Prosecutors opposed the move to bring charges against Nike,
but judges said they would consider it.
The criminal hearing to determine responsibility for the
deaths had been postponed four times after the owner of the
Gympanzee daycare centre, Iman Al Kuwari, failed to show up.
Her appearance in court means she is able to mount a defence
against the charges - something which hung in the balance
after her last no-show earlier this month.
A court official earlier told Doha News that today's hearing
would be the last time Al Kuwari could be tried "amicably",
after which she would lose the chance to mount a defence.
The others charged over the mall fire include Al Kuwari's
husband, mall management, Civil Defence officials and
insurance company representatives.
The relatives of victims were reportedly teary-eyed as the
defendants appeared in court for the more than half-hour
They told Doha News their expectations had been low after the
postponements, but progress had been made.
The triplets' father, Martin Weekes, earlier this month
expressed his frustration with the delays to the hearing.
"The delay in the legal system is beginning to shed an
unfavourable light on the country and the courts."
Three weeks after the fire, Nike released a statement saying
it was deeply saddened by the deaths.
An investigation report found the fire was sparked by faulty
electrical wiring in a fluorescent light in its store.