Report Into Extremism In Africa Is "Missed Opportunity"

Lawyers Representing Victims of Terrorist Attack at In Amenas, Algeria, Comment On Foreign Affairs Committee Report on Extremism in North and West Africa

21.03.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Lawyers representing the families of BP employees who died when a faction of Al-Qaeda stormed a gas plant in Algeria last year, say that a British Government report (published today 21st March 2014) on extremism and instability in Northern Africa is a missed opportunity to find out exactly what happened during the tragedy.

Around 800 people were taken hostage at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria (the largest such facility in the country) on 16th January 2013, with more than 65 killed as gun battles took place between terrorists and the Algerian military over the next two days.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell is representing families of BP employees, including that of Carlos Estrada, a Senior Vice President for BP, who had worked for BP for 18 years and had risen to the position of Vice President of Non–Operated Assets.

Mr Estrada was on his first business trip to the In Amenas gas plant when he was taken hostage by the terrorists and killed during his time in captivity.  His family are still waiting to find out exactly what happened to him, as over one-year-on they still don’t know how, when or where he died.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FAC) has today published a report entitled ‘The UK’s response to extremism and instability in North and West Africa’ (Friday 21st March 2014), but the report only briefly mentions the tragic situation at In Amenas and it remains unclear from the report what exactly happened to the victims.

Mr Estrada’s family, who live in London, and their lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are disappointed and say that although the report did not initially set out to examine the tragedy, it is a missed opportunity to find out vital information about what caused the tragedy and what could have been done to avert it from happening.

Clive Garner, Head of International Travel law and Group Actions at Irwin Mitchell, representing the families, said:

Expert Opinion
Whilst we welcome the report by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee into safety in North and West Africa, sadly the report only briefly touches upon the terrible events and the dreadful loss of life that occurred at the In Amenas gas plant on those fateful days last year.

"We and our clients see this as a missed opportunity to gather more detailed evidence about what went so tragically wrong in Algeria. This was a tragedy on an immense scale with a huge loss of life for British citizens and others who considered that they were working there safely. Whilst we welcome a number of the recommendations made by the Committee we are no closer to understanding exactly how this event was allowed to occur.”

“Attention now turns to the upcoming inquest where part of the scope of the Coroner’s enquiries will be to consider the security of the site and examine the events leading up to and during those awful few days. It is crucial not just to inform the families how their relatives died and give them some form of closure, but also to ensure that lessons are learned to prevent other similar incidents in future.”
Clive Garner, Partner

The full inquest into the deaths of seven victims of the tragedy is scheduled to take place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London between 8th September and 31st October 2014.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Terrorism Related Injury Claims.