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On 16th January 2013 the Tiguentourine Gas Facility based in In Amenas, Algeria, and run as a joint venture between BP, Statoil and the Algerian oil company Sonatrach, came under violent terrorist attack. The facility housed approximately 145 foreign nationals.
As terrorists entered the facility they seized foreign nationals as hostages in what was to become a horrific four-day siege, culminating in catastrophic loss and injury. Sadly 40 of the foreign nationals as well as a number of Algerian workers lost their lives during the attack. Many others suffered both physical and psychological injuries. International press coverage identifies that those responsible for the attack were a breakaway faction of Al-Qaeda.
Alicia Thompson is representing 23 survivors and relatives of those who died to establish the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attack, how it happened and what lessons can be learned. Our clients are from several nations but despite the passage of 18 months the information that has emerged has not delivered answers about the adequacy of the security arrangements to those whose lives have been so substantially affected.
Inquests into the deaths of seven British workers began in 2013, but have only this week ended. The ‘interested persons’ to the inquests include Slater and Gordon’s clients whose loved ones died, BP, Statoil, the Metropolitan Police, and the UK Government. Details about the inquest process, including the coroner’s decision can be found at In Amenas Inquest. A vast amount of evidence and background material was assembled in preparation for the hearing. Approximately 70 witnesses were called. The inquests promised to be the best chance for a full and independent investigation into the terrorist attack at the Tiguentourine Gas Facility
Alicia Thompson said of the coroner's decision on 26th February 2015:
“The coroner’s investigation and findings today have gone some way to helping the families piece together the sequence of events which led to the death of 40 workers during the In Amenas terrorist attack.
However the families have still been left with many unanswered questions.
It remains incomprehensible how during a time of heightened terrorism concerns, 39 terrorists were able to walk in and take control of one of Algeria’s largest gas production facilities within minutes. Our clients still do not know why their loved ones were not better protected.
They want to come to terms with their grief but struggle to do so because the detail of what went wrong is still far from clear.
We have reviewed the evidence put before the coroner over the last few months from a wider perspective to ensure that the culpable are now held accountable. Ultimate responsibility for the health, safety and security of those working on the site rested with those who operated it in this case the joint venture partners. The question of whether operating cost was put before the safety of the worker force must now be addressed.
It is important that lessons are learned to ensure that work places like this are sufficiently protected to prevent events like this from ever happening again.
We will now work with our clients to take this matter to the next stage and clients’ legal rights to seek direct remedies, including compensation against any responsible parties”.
Inquests into the deaths of seven British workers began in 2013, and is now being heard in Court 73 at the Royal Courts of Justice and is due to conclude on the 24th October 2014. The ‘interested persons’ to the inquests include Slater and Gordon’s clients whose loved ones died, BP, Statoil, the Metropolitan Police, and the UK Government. Details about the inquest process, including the hearing dates and schedule, can be found at In Amenas Inquest.
A vast amount of evidence and background material has been assembled in preparation for the hearings. Approximately 70 witnesses are being called and there are important and detailed witness statements to be considered. The inquests promise to be the best chance for a full and independent investigation into the terrorist attack at the Tiguentourine Gas Facility.
On Friday 5th September 2014 the UK government applied to postpone the inquest and argued that the inquest should be presided over by a Judge rather than a Senior Coroner owing to the nature of some of the evidence which could have resulted in the inquest being delayed by many months.
On behalf of the people affected Slater and Gordon Lawyers strongly opposed the proposed adjournment. The victims had already waited for nearly two years for open independent judicial investigation and had spent much of the last year preparing themselves for a hearing in September 2014. We shared their grave concerns about the prospect of further delays in completing the investigation. We were therefore very pleased when, following our objections, the inquest was adjourned for only a week and has now begun and with a Judge as Coroner.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers believe that security failings at the In Amenas facility caused or contributed to the injuries and loss of life that occurred during the siege.
We will leave no stone unturned. This terrorist attack was an international outrage and if the UK legal system lets us down we will explore all options including international ones.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers welcome contact from UK citizens or any other jurisdiction who have been affected. Wherever you are, if you have been directly affected by the In Amenas incident or you are representing individuals that have been affected, please contact AThompson@SlaterGordon.co.uk or call freephone 0800 884 0383 or contact us online.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers is one of the UK's largest and well known law firms with offices in London, Manchester, Watford, Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Preston, Wakefield and Wrexham.