Tuesday 17 October 2017

Hearing into deaths of two tragic Irish students who died in Belgian fire begins

Dace Zarina and Sara Gibadlo died in a fire in their accommodation in Leuven
Dace Zarina and Sara Gibadlo died in a fire in their accommodation in Leuven

Kathy Armstrong

A hearing into the deaths of two Irish students at an apartment in Belgium will begin this morning.

Dace Zarina (22) and Sara Gibaldo (19) tragically died when a blaze ripped through the student house they were living in in Leuven on January 31 2014.

Their remains were found huddled together in a wardrobe, eight other students - including six Irish people - managed to escape the fire.

Ms Zarina, who was from Longford, and Ms Gibaldo, from Galway, were both students at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and were doing a work placement at the Leuven Institute.

Dace Zarina from Longford
Dace Zarina from Longford

Ms Zarina and Ms Gibaldo were both Irish nationals but were buried in their parents' native countries, Poland and Latvia.

RTE News reports that the Leuven Institute, its director Malachy Vallely and Offaly student Shane Bracken (22) have all been named as defendants and summoned to  appear before Leuven Correctional Court.

Written submissions are set to be examined today, followed by oral hearings and witnesses may be cross-examined.

Leuven's fire and police departments have reported that the building wasn't registered as student accommodation, so it was not subjected to mandatory fire inspections.

The scene of the fire at Leuven
The scene of the fire at Leuven

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