Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Inquest's Verdict on Tunisia Deaths; CORONER RULES ON BRITISH TERROR VICTIMS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Inquest's Verdict on Tunisia Deaths; CORONER RULES ON BRITISH TERROR VICTIMS

Article excerpt

Byline: Sonia Sharma Reporter sonia.sharma@trinitymirror.com

ALL 30 British victims of a Tunisia terror attack, including Gateshead grandmother Lisa Burbidge, were unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith has delivered his verdict at the end of a seven-week inquest into the deaths of the Britons killed in the attack in 2015.

Grandmother-of-four Lisa, 66, of Whickham, was among those who lost their lives.

Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith rejected calls from lawyers for some of the victims' relatives to rule "neglect" by travel firm TUI or the hotel owners.

He said the law on neglect did not, in his view, apply to tourists who voluntarily went abroad and that better planning and actions by hotel staff may not have prevented the atrocity in which 38 people were killed by radicalised Islamic extremist Seifeddine Rezgui.

The judge said he would rule on each British victim individually, adding: "My conclusion is that all 30 were unlawfully killed."

He said the owners and staff at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel could have done nothing before the attack that would have done more than "possibly make a difference". Rezgui opened fire on the beach and grounds of the Sousse hotel in June 2015, but the judge, sitting as coroner at the victims' inquest, said the law regarding neglect did not cover tourists on holiday.

The lawyers for more than 20 of Rezgui's victims had wanted this included after the lengthy inquest heard evidence from survivors that they were not warned of the danger of holidaying in Tunisia before they left.

The inquests also heard the hotel had just a handful of unarmed guards, while "cowardly" local police delayed their arrival to tackle Rezgui, who killed 38 people in total.

Giving his reasons for rejecting a neglect ruling, Judge Loraine-Smith said there were a lot of "what ifs" around the case, and better hotel security may simply have meant more people died on the beach. …

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