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Lawyer: ‘Expertise says fire was deliberate at Children’s’ World trade centre’

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, September 7
Pridon Sikhuashvili, the lawyer of the affected vendors of the burnt trading center Children’s World, says the fire was deliberately caused in the building.

Sikhuashvili claims he was briefed on the results of an investigation conducted by experts, adding that the examination results showed that safety rules were not observed in the building and also the large-scale fire was inflicted deliberately.

“This has now been confirmed by the examination report and the testimonies of witnesses. I have become acquainted with the examination report. The experts directly point out that about 83 to 90 kg of oil products were deliberately burnt and no safety rules were observed,” he claimed.

The lawyer stressed that if safety norms had been observed in the trading center, the emergency services would have been timely informed and it would have been possible to avoid such an extensive disaster.

“The administration of the center was obliged to have the safety norms in line with approved standards but these norms were violated. This has been proved by the experts,” said Sikhuashvili.

The Didube District trade center in Tbilisi, known as Children’s World, and its adjacent shops and a market, were burnt due to an extensive fire which broke out at the territory early morning on January 30, destroying the properties of about 1,000 vendors.

The building of the trade center was insured, but the properties of the affected vendors were not, and so the traders suffered huge losses from the disaster.

In total, around 13,000 square meters were burnt, and the trade center building will not be useable for the foreseeable future.

The administration of the Children’s World claimed from the beginning that safety norms were in line with approved standards.

However, in late July, the director of the trading center, Giorgi Machavariani and another employee of the trade center, Malkhaz Tevzadze were arrested by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) for a breach of fire safety regulations and negligence.

The POG stated the investigation conducted into the case revealed that due to the breach of fire safety regulations and negligence of officially responsible persons, it was impossible for an adequate force of firefighters to localize the fire in the total area of the market and to extinguish it.

Giorgi Machavariani is accused of violating fire safety regulations, while Malkhaz Tevzadze, an officer of internal security, is accused of negligence while performing his duties.

After the decision of Tbilisi City Court, both men were released later on bail on July 31.