Tunisia Sousse victim inquests to open today

Tunisia Sousse victim inquests to open today

Tributes made on the beach after the attack

Monday, January 16, 2017

Inquests into the killings of 30 Britons who died in the 2015 Tunisia beach massacre open today.

In June 2015, Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi opened fire on tourists staying at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel and lounging on the adjoining beach in the Port El Kantaoui resort in Sousse.

He killed a total of 39 people, 30 of them British citizens, in an attack for which Islamic State claimed responsibility.

The families of the victims have been battling for the inquests for almost two years, a process which has been legally frustrated after the Government applied for certain elements of the inquest to be kept private due to national security concerns.

Three months prior to the Sousse incident, 24 people were killed in an Isis terror attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, the capital of the North African country.

A soliticitor representing the claimants, Andrew Ritchie QC, said they were concerned the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) may have failed in its responsibilities to British tourists becauseof fears it had been "having cosy chats" with travel companies to run "profitable businesses in light of current advice of a high risk of terrorist activity."

Some of the families of victims caught up in the attack claimed that the travel company Thomson had assured them it was safe to travel to Tunisia after the museum attack. 

TUI, the company that owns Thomson, said it wants to understand the specific circumstances that led to the killings and is co-operating with the coroner. They wouldn't comment ahead of the inquests, but have said they didn't accept the accuracy of all statements made.

The hearings will open in court 38 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. They will last for around seven weeks, and will be presided over by judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith.