Manchester. She was the youngest victim of the Manchester terrorist attack. When suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up at the end of a concert by US superstar Ariana Grande in May 2017, he killed 22 people, including eight-year-old Saffie Roussos. Her parents now hope that a public investigation into the attack, which begins with the taking of evidence on Monday, will finally shed light on the darkness – and criticize the fact that representatives of the bereaved are partially excluded from the proceedings.
In an interview with the British broadcaster BBC, Andrew and Lisa Roussos demand a transparent procedure. It should be made clear whether and to what extent the authorities knew about Salman Abedi and his brother Hashem Abedi, who was recently sentenced to 55 years in prison for supporting a terrorist attack, and whether this could have prevented the crime. It also aims to clarify what happened before, during and after the attack and how the British security forces reacted.
“You left injured people in the arena for hours – that’s crazy!”
“The worst thing for me would be to know that Saffie could have been saved. Thinking about it – not just about Saffie, but about the other victims too. To think about leaving injured people in the arena for hours. That is just amazing ”, Lisa Roussos is quoted as saying. The mother was at the concert with her daughters, eight-year-old Saffie and her older sister Ashlee. Lisa and Ashlee were injured in the attack. She remembers lying on the floor thinking that help would come soon, but it felt like she’d been left alone for hours, says Lisa Roussos, who was temporarily paralyzed after the attack.
“It was a complete mess. Nobody had any idea what to do, how to react. ” She wishes mistakes were admitted. Father Andrew had gone to the arena to pick up his family with his eleven-year-old son Xander. After the attack, he found Ashlee slightly injured on a sidewalk and searched for Saffie and Lisa himself in the chaos. “Injured children screamed, lay on the floor. Everyone was crying. I asked every policeman I saw, they all just told me to keep looking between the victims. Nobody was in control. “
Father found out about Saffie’s death 14 hours later
It is particularly bitter that his wife and youngest daughter were only a few meters away from him, scared and seriously injured. “I could have been with them, I could have held Saffie’s hand instead of a stranger. How must she have felt when she was lying there? ”Asks the father. It wasn’t until 14 hours after the explosion that the family was certain that Saffie was dead.
For Andrew and Lisa Roussos it is important that the truth comes out at the public hearing and that wrongdoing is identified – even if they do not really believe in it. “I keep hearing that the incident was a lesson, but it was not and never will be learned from it,” Andrew told the BBC, “as long as there is no transparency and honesty from the people involved who give us answers can.”
Public investigation takes place partly behind closed doors
The two had the feeling that they were deprived of important information about the last hours of their daughter. “I don’t want to know anything about her exact injuries, anything about what she went through. But we still have a few questions about the circumstances, ”says Lisa Roussos.
The public inquiry will take place in a specially converted courtroom and begin on Monday. A senior MI5 officer is also due to testify. It is a procedure separate from the criminal and civil processes, which aims to clarify the circumstances and point out failures in order to prevent future terrorist attacks. Parts of the proceedings are being debated in camera so as not to endanger national security, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
Terrorist attack in Manchester: bereaved and survivors are not allowed to ask investigators questions
This in turn meets with criticism from the Roussos – because this would keep important details about the death of their daughter secret. They therefore suggested that the six law firms representing the bereaved should have permanent access to the proceedings. “I don’t feel that there will be transparency if we don’t have a representative in the courtroom,” said the father.
According to the newspaper, 50 survivors and bereaved relatives applied to be present at the public inquiry earlier this year. They should then have received evidence in advance and should have been involved in the investigation and asked questions during the investigation. The head of the investigation process rejected the applications, and a court later confirmed the rejection.
Saffie’s parents mourn: “She dies every day, every day”
The parents also spoke about their own misfortune on the BBC: “We feel like we’re stuck in May 2017. You can’t get over that, never, ”says Lisa Roussos. “You wake up every morning. It happens again. She dies that day, every day. ” Due to the public inquiry, the pain is currently as great as ever.