Defendants in Villaggio Mall fire case avoid jail time

The judge presiding over the case in Qatar said defendants should pay blood money to families of the 19 victims



A judge in Qatar has decided that none of the five defendants responsible for a deadly fire in a Doha will spend time in jail.

The defendants were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after the fire at Villaggio Mall’s daycare centre in 2012 killed 19 people, and were sentenced to between five and six years in jail after going on trial in 2013.

After being exonerated on appeal in 2015, Qatar’s highest court – the Court of Cassation – ordered a retrial in February, with the judge deciding that four of the defendants would pay blood money to the victim’s families rather than serve time in prison. The fifth defendant was given a one-year suspended sentence.

The judge said he would “punish” the defendants by ordering them to jointly pay QAR 200,000 ($55,000) to the relatives of each of the deceased. He added that the mall’s insurance company would also need to contribute.

An official investigation found that the fire was sparked by faulty wiring in a sporting goods shop which then spread through the complex.