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Foreign Office has ‘barely lifted a finger’ over death of Cambridge woman Raffy Tsakanika, 21, in Qatar, say family





The Foreign Office has “barely raised a finger” to push the authorities in Qatar into handing over CCTV footage following the death of a 21-year-old from Cambridge in a crash near Doha, her family has said.

Raffy Tsakanika, 21, a West End make-up artist, died when a car in which she was a passenger was hit from behind by a second vehicle near the Qatari capital in March 2019.

Rafaelle Tsakanika, from Cambridge
Rafaelle Tsakanika, from Cambridge

Her mother, Jo Sullivan, said they felt “badly let down” by both the authorities in Qatar and the British government.

The second vehicle, which was speeding at up to 119mph, caused the first to lose control and overturn on a four-lane carriageway.

The driver, Qatari national Mubarak Al Hajri, did not stop at the scene but was subsequently sentenced in his home country to two months in prison and ordered to pay compensation to the Tsakanika family.

At a UK inquest last year, a coroner criticised Qatari authorities for the lack of information provided.

Ms Tsakanika’s stepfather, Donal Sullivan, has seen that the Qataris have further evidence that has not been disclosed, according to a spokesperson for the family, Radd Seiger.

Mr Seiger said he, along with Mr and Mrs Sullivan, met with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on Tuesday last week.

An FCDO official claimed they were “blinded by the publicity after the conclusion of the inquest and the coroner’s critical remarks”, Mr Seiger said.

The inquest was told speed cameras caught Al Hajri’s car apparently undamaged shortly before the crash and damaged shortly afterwards, but these images were not provided to the UK coroner by Qatari authorities.

Ms Tsakanika’s family are pressing for a meeting with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, minister of state for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and United Nations at the FCDO.

They want him to raise the case with the Qataris at the highest level in an attempt to get CCTV footage which they say the Qataris have.

If the Qataris refuse to disclose further material, the family wants the FCDO to amend travel advice to Qatar to warn people how they could be treated.

Mrs Sullivan said after the FCDO meeting: “I do not understand why we are being so badly let down by both the Qatari and our own British Government.

“It is impossible to describe how painful life is each and every day without Raffy, but to not know how she died when the Qataris have all that evidence in their own hands and are refusing to hand it over, while the FCDO simply stand by and watch, just makes it all a thousand times worse.”

Mr Seiger said the family has been “treated barbarically by the Qataris without the FCDO raising barely a finger to intervene”.

West End make-up artist Rafaelle Tsakanika, from Cambridge, died in a high speed hit-and-run in Qatar near Doha on March 30 2019. Her mother, Jo Sullivan has labelled the driver's two-month prison sentence as "pitiful and embarrassing"
West End make-up artist Rafaelle Tsakanika, from Cambridge, died in a high speed hit-and-run in Qatar near Doha on March 30 2019. Her mother, Jo Sullivan has labelled the driver's two-month prison sentence as "pitiful and embarrassing"

“We have read the riot act to them after this latest awful meeting and now expect them to fulfil their duty to represent Raffy’s family’s interests rather than trying to not offend the Qataris,” he said.

“This scandal has been more than four years in the making and must now be resolved at the highest levels and we look forward to getting a meeting with Lord Ahmad in the diary without delay.”

An FCDO spokesperson said: “FCDO staff have offered support to Ms Tsakanika’s family since her death in 2019.

“We have raised this case with the Qatari authorities on multiple occasions, including at ministerial level.

“We continue to offer them further support. This was a private meeting between FCDO consular officials and Ms Tsakanika’s family and their representative.”



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