20 Dec 2012

Doha mall warned over flammable paint, court told

12:00 pm on 20 December 2012

A trial in Doha has heard that a mall where 19 people died in a fire in May had been fined repeatedly for using highly flammable paint in its shop decorations.

Among those killed in the fire were 13 children, including New Zealand triplets.

Internet news organisation Doha News reports that evidence from three of 10 witnesses, all Civil Defence officers, was heard on Wednesday.

They alleged the mall owners had been fined and warned about using paint on the ceiling which, when ignited, causes a fire that is very hard to bring under control.

The witnesses testified that the paint was partly responsible for the thickness of the smoke which spread through the nursery in which children and teachers died and other parts of the mall.

Doha News says the court was told sprinklers would have stopped the smoke but did not appear to be functioning.

Defence lawyers say maintenance companies had not met their responsibilities and fire crews were not well trained.

The lawyer for the day care centre is calling for charges to be laid against Nike as the fire started in its store.

One of the owners of the day care centre had failed to show on four previous occasions, repeatedly delaying the start of the trial.

She finally appeared on Wednesday along with another owner, four mall officials and a government employee.

The case has been adjourned until January.