In Amenas: killers ‘not forgiven’








The In Amenas gas plantThe In Amenas siege ended when Algerian forces attacked and took control of the gas plant


The father of a Briton killed in a siege at an Algerian gas plant has not “forgiven or understood” his son’s death, an inquest has heard.

Stephen Green from Fleet in Hampshire, was one of six British workers killed at the In Amenas plant in January 2013. A UK resident also died.

His father David told the hearing, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, he felt “anger at those responsible”.

Forty workers and 29 militants were killed during the siege.

The inquest is examining the deaths of Garry Barlow, 49, from Liverpool; Carson Bilsland, 46, from Perthshire; Stephen Green, 47, from Hampshire; Sebastian John, 26, from Norfolk; Paul Morgan, 46, from Liverpool and Kenneth Whiteside, 59, from Fife.

It is also examining the death of Carlos Estrada, a Colombian who had moved to London.

David Green spoke of his family’s pain. “Stephen’s death has been very hard for us. He had a lot of happiness to look forward to,” he said.

“I feel both grief and anger – grief that my son was refused a happy future, and anger against those responsible.

“They are not forgiven or understood.”

Stephen Green’s partner – whose name was not given – told the hearing there was “chaos” in the aftermath of the assault, and that his body had been placed in a mortuary alongside one of the militants.


Paul MorganPaul Morgan, from Liverpool, was among the Britons who died

All the victims’ relatives gave statements in front of a picture of their loved ones.

Opening the inquest, assistant coroner for West Sussex, Nicholas Hilliard QC, said: “Each was wholly innocent of events which unfolded when a group of heavily armed went into the In Amenas gas facility.

“Forty innocent people lost their lives, such was the scale of events.

“Each and every death is a wholly separate tragedy and leaves family and friends devastated and bereft.”


Sensitive material

Last week, the inquest’s coroner stood down to be replaced by Judge Hilliard after the government said it might present “sensitive material” as evidence.

In a statement, coroner Penelope Schofield said she had been asked to stand down by the chief coroner after government officials said they “held sensitive material which they considered was possibly relevant to the inquest, and that this material could only be reviewed by a judge”.

She said she initially refused because appointing a judge would have meant a “lengthy adjournment” which would have “devastating effects on the families and witnesses”.

But she said Judge Hilliard was available to hear the case, and that it was “in the interests of justice” for the judge to hear the inquest.


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Timeline


In Amenas road sign

16 January 2013 Militants attack two buses carrying In Amenas workers, killing two. They then go on to the living quarters and main installation, seizing hostages. Some gas workers manage to escape

17 January Algerian forces attack after the militants try to move their hostages in five 4x4s. Four of the vehicles are destroyed in an air strike and an unknown number of hostages are killed

18 January Stalemate as Algerian forces surround the gas plant where the remaining hostages are held

19 January Algerian forces launch a final assault after reports that the hostage-takers are killing their captives


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Army assault

Militants from a group known as the Signed-in-Blood Battalion arrived before dawn on 16 January last year and entered the In Amenas plant, a joint venture run by British company BP, Norway’s Statoil and Algerian state company Sonatrach.

Within 15 minutes they had taken control, killing some some of the plant’s 800 workers and taking others – mostly foreigners – hostage.

Algerian forces surrounded the site and, while militants were moving hostages in a convoy, destroyed four vehicles – killing an unknown number of hostages.

The Algerian army finally regained control of the plant with an assault on 19 January.

The hearing is expected to last until the end of next month.

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