Defence witnesses in a court hearing about the Doha mall fire
that killed New Zealand triplets have questioned whether the
daycare centre where more than a dozen children died was a
Earlier evidence by victims' parents and former employees of
drop-and-shop hourly babysitting service Gympanzee in the
Villaggio Mall was that the centre was a nursery.
But four people, including a former employee whose child
attended the centre for two years but was sick on the day of
the fire, her husband, and two mothers told the court
overnight no teaching took place there, Doha News reported.
There was no blackboard, chalk or teachers, the witnesses
said. Rather, children played with toys and coloured with
The distinction was vital for the court in determining if its
owners were guilty of negligence.
Nineteen people, including 13 children, four employees and
two firefighters died in the fire on May 28 last year.
They included New Zealand two-year-old triplets Lillie,
Jackson and Willsher Weekes.
Their father, Martin Weekes, told APNZ evidence that the
nursery was not licensed was a joke.
His children had nursery diplomas signed by the centre's
co-owner Iman Al Kuwari.
Mr Weekes said he was baffled about why the issue of whether
the centre was licensed was so important to the trial.
"The issue surely here is 13 children and six adults were
killed. Whether the Al Kuwaris were in breach of their
license operating as a nursery or a daycare seems to me to be
irrelevant," he said.
"Why was a public building allowed to be built and continue
operating when it was known to have illegal building
materials? Why were there no working sprinklers and no
alarms? Why was the water pump not working?
"Why were the children and staff not evacuated? These are the
Al Kuwari's driver also gave evidence to the court, calling
into question the timeliness of the emergency response, Doha
He said firefighters did not arrive until at least 11.10am,
even though his employer had notified him of the fire at
10.20am. All other witnesses previously testified that the
fire began around 11am.
The defence will continue their case later this month.
At least some of the defendants, including Al Kuwari and her
husband and four mall officials were expected to give
The criminal hearing to determine responsibility for the
deaths had been postponed four times after Al Kuwari failed
to show up.
- Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ