July 24 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
A hearing into the death of a Norfolk man and other Britons killed when terrorists laid siege to an Algerian gas plant will take place today.
Sebastian John, a former Norwich School pupil, was among 40 hostages who were killed at the In Amenas plant in the north African country, during a four-hour stand off in January last year.
The 26-year-old BP civil engineer had only arrived in Algeria a week before the crisis.
After spending his childhood in Norfolk, he had lived in Nottinghamshire since graduating in 2009 from Loughborough University and had recently moved to Surrey after taking up the job with BP.
Shortly after his death, a service was held for him in Norwich Cathedral, attended by more than 100 mourners, including his widow, Nicola, and their then eight month old son, Ralph.
Today’s hearing will also cover the deaths of five other Britons and a UK-based Colombian who were killed in the attack.
They are: Carson Bilsland and Kenneth Whiteside, both from Scotland, Stephen Green, from Hampshire, Paul Morgan and Garry Barlow, both from Liverpool, and Carlos Estrada, a BP executive who was originally from Colombia but lived in London.
Some 29 of the hostage-takers also died, while three were captured by Algerian troops during a special forces mission to end the bloodshed.
During a pre-inquest hearing in January, Detective Superintendent Jim Stokley, from the Metropolitan Police, said that statements still needed to be taken from witnesses in the United States, France, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.
It is hoped today’s hearing at Crawley Town Hall in West Sussex will iron out any administrative, investigative and legal proceedings which still need to take place, a spokesman for the West Sussex Coroner said.
Before the last hearing, lawyers for Mr Estrada’s family, who live in Chelsea, west London, said his relatives were still in the dark over the circumstances of his death more than a year on from the atrocity.
The pre-inquest hearing is the second one to be held in advance of the full inquest which is expected to start at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on September 8.