Make-up artist’s family await answers over her death in Qatar

·3-min read

The family of a West End make-up artist who was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Qatar are still awaiting answers more than three years on, having received limited information from Qatari authorities, an inquest heard.

Rafaelle Tsakanika, 21, of Cambridge, died in a two-car crash near Doha on March 30 2019, shortly after teacher Mubarak Al Hajri, then aged 46, was captured “racing” at 119mph.

Court documents, seen by the PA news agency, show Ms Tsakanika, who was known as Raffy, was the passenger in a Toyota Land Cruiser which “flipped over several times”, resulting in her and her 20-year-old friend being “thrown” out of the car.

Witnesses described Al Hajri’s driving as “reckless”, with one man telling officers he tried to catch up with him after he started to “race” another car.

Rafaelle Tsakanika death
West End make-up artist Rafaelle Tsakanika who was killed by teacher Mubarak Al Hajri in a high speed hit-and-run in Qatar near Doha on March 30 2019 (Family handout/PA)

The Qatari courts eventually convicted Al Hajri of causing Ms Tsakanika’s death, causing serious injuries to her friend, driving in a way that endangered lives, fleeing the scene of an accident and speeding.

He was sentenced to just two months in prison and ordered to pay compensation to Ms Tsakanika’s family.

A pre-inquest review hearing into the death of Ms Tsakanika took place at Peterborough Town Hall on Tuesday.

Barrister John Goss said the family have “grave reservations about the extent and quality” of material disclosed by Qatari authorities to date.

He told the hearing that support offered to the coroner by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) “might not have been what one might have expected”.

Mr Goss said the family want to have a full inquest listed “and to move towards that as best we can on the information we have available”.

Simon Milburn, area coroner for Cambridgeshire, said he would instruct a forensic collision investigator to review the evidence and a full inquest is due to take place from November 21 in Huntingdon.

Radd Seiger, adviser and spokesperson for Raffy’s family, said: “It is now well over three years since Raffy’s tragic death in Qatar.

“The family know there is nothing they can do to bring her back but they have the right to learn how Raffy died, which is the main purpose of an inquest.

“The Qatari authorities have so far ignored all pleas and failed to give full disclosure to either the family or the coroner.

“They still do not know what happened to her.”

He said the version of events described by the Qataris “does not stand up to scrutiny” and the family feel that “neither the Qataris or the FCDO care about Raffy’s life and are instead focusing on their relations and the forthcoming World Cup”.

“It is as if they want to sweep Raffy’s death under carpet and hope the case just fades away,” he said.

“The family are now left with having to await a report from an expert forensic collision investigator to see if he can shed any light on what happened.

“Raffy’s family want to ensure that what happened to them never happens again and hope that their case serves to warn anyone planning to visit Qatar of the perils on their roads and the fact that they are unlikely to get justice should the worst happen to them.

“This is in sharp contrast to the severe punishments the Qataris hand out to foreigners for even minor misdemeanours.”

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