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Victims of Tunisia Terror Attack Commence Legal Action

Hotel Security Measures In The Spotlight


Several families of those who lost loved ones, as well as a number of those who were seriously injured in the terrorist attack in Sousse, Tunisia, in June this year have commenced legal action against the tour operator, Thomson, who provided their package holidays.

The tragedy in Sousse left 30 Britons dead and many more injured as a gunman opened fire on the beach before entering a hotel to continue his attack.

Expert international personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have notified Thomson (TUI Limited) that claims for damages are being brought against the company following alleged failures to provide adequate security precautions at and around the Hotel Riu Imperial Mahraba and the adjacent beach, where the massacre occurred on 26 June this year.

Victims and their families are also critical of the lack of warnings given to them in the light of the known level of risk in the region at the time of the attack.

The same specialist team at Irwin Mitchell also represents the families of some of those BP employees who lost their lives in January 2013 at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria, in which an Algerian and 39 foreign nationals were killed following an attack by an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group.

Expert Opinion
“Given the history of escalating terrorist activity in Tunisia, by June 2015 there was a clear risk that tourists visiting Sousse may have been the target of a terrorist attack.

“In the three years leading up to the tragic events in June, there have been literally dozens of acts of terrorism in Tunisia, including the Bardo Museum massacre in Tunis in March of this year which left 22 victims dead. Only 18 months before the events at the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba, there was a suicide bombing at the Riadh Palms Hotel in Sousse, which is only a few kilometres away. These and many other incidents should have made alarm bells ring loud and clear with both hotels and tour operators. Every reasonable security precaution should have been implemented to protect hotel guests and staff who rightly expect that their personal safety will be the top priority of those who they trust to look after them.

“If the recent history of terrorist activity in Tunisia wasn’t enough, The Islamic State (‘IS’) claimed responsibility for the Bardo Museum attack in an audio and written statement warning that this was just "the first drop of rain" and promising further attacks. Then, a few weeks before the June 2015 massacre, an Islamic terrorist group in Tunisia tweeted a warning to British and western tourists not to travel to Tunisia for their summer holidays.* Moreover, the month of Ramadan began in Tunisia on 17 June 2015, and on 23 June 2015, only three days before the attack in Sousse, an audio message was released by an ISIL leader encouraging militants everywhere to increase the level of violence during Ramadan.”

“Despite this, we have heard first-hand accounts from our clients about the lack of security precautions evident at the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba. We are still gathering detailed evidence about the precise precautions in place at the hotel, but it is clear that the security measures were not even sufficient to prevent a lone gunman from accessing the hotel and its grounds, nor were they robust enough to stop him during a prolonged 30 to 40 minute rampage.

“Our clients have now commenced legal action against Thomson. The tour operator is legally responsible for any failures by its own staff, as well as any errors or omissions by the hotel and its staff. This includes any failure to provide reasonable security precautions or any failure to provide adequate warnings to guests before and during their stays. Both of these issues will be judged taking into account the level of risk that existed.”
Clive Garner, Partner

Irwin Mitchell confirmed that formal letters of claim had recently been sent to Thomson and no formal response had yet been received. It is unknown at this stage whether Thomson will admit or deny the allegations. Lawyers are now gathering further evidence in relation to the claims.

Expert Opinion
“Our clients have been through the most appalling ordeal. Many of those who have lost loved ones and those lucky enough to survive the attack will continue to bear the physical and emotional scars of events in Sousse for the rest of their lives. Some of those left severely injured still need further surgery, as well as specialist rehabilitation and therapy, as they seek to overcome both the physical and psychological trauma that they continue to endure.”
Clive Garner, Partner

Victims of the terrorist attack have questioned security measures at the resort. Kirsty Murray was shot several times and suffered shrapnel injuries to her arms and legs following an explosion in the hotel. The 25-year-old was on holiday with her fiancé, Radley Ruszkiewicz, who was also injured in the attack.

Kirsty, from Colchester, said: “I’ve never been so scared in my life. It was just so shocking and horrible. After I was shot and hurt I just had to lay there on the floor pretending to be dead while the gunman stepped over me. I thought I was going to die.

“I was lucky to be alive but I’ve had to have several operations and although I’m back at home I’m still in pain. This is something that I will never forget.

“We have to question the security at the resort given the level of terrorist threats and previous attacks – which I was never made aware of before I went.

“I don’t recall seeing any armed guards in or around the hotel and we were never warned of any evacuation or emergency procedures. There was very little, if anything, in the way of visible security precautions

I just want to know I will get the help I need to overcome this ordeal. I will need extensive rehabilitation for my injuries now. It’s also incredibly important that lessons are learned from this attack.

“It’s too late to save those who died and nothing can turn back the clock, but hopefully there are things that can be improved to reduce the risk of it happening again, either in Tunisia or elsewhere.”

Clive Garner and his colleagues at Irwin Mitchell dealing with the case are keen to speak to other witnesses present during the attack or who otherwise may be able to provide background information that could assist their investigations into events at the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba and its adjacent beach as well as the surrounding circumstances.

Anyone who was there at the time or who has other information which may be of assistance is asked to call Clive Garner on 0121 214 5253, Jennifer Lund on 020 7421 3942 or Joanna Saunders on 020 7400 8747 or email Joanna.saunders@irwinmitchell.com

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