Nabil Choucair and his family have spent much of the last few days uneasily trying to establish what is meant by the term “remains”.
Choucair, who lost six close relatives in the Grenfell Tower fire, has been told by police that “13 remains” have been discovered in the 22nd floor flat where his sister lived. But he has no clear sense of what this term means.
No? Here, this might help:
Choucair, who did not live in the block, is hoping that police will show him photographs of the two flats – 191 and 193 – which were home to his mother, Sirria Choucair, his sister Nadia Choucair, her husband, Bassem Choukair, and their three children, Mierna, 13, Fatima, 11, and Zainab, three.
He wants police to let him listen to the 999 calls they made on the night of the fire. He hopes that investigators will release jewellery, or other items of sentimental value that may have withstood the blaze, but he still does not know if anything remains. Police have said they will provide all this at some point, but families are still waiting, uncertain about reasons for the delay.
Why, since they’ve already told you the reasons, as if you couldn’t see for yourself?
Choucair knows the process of identifying remains will take time and appreciates the efforts of a police-allocated family liaison officer to keep him informed, but he is surprised by the lack of detail available.
“They must know what ‘13 remains’ means. Does it mean body parts or ashes? They must have documented it. So why am I not being told? I feel upset and confused, not being told exactly what that means. They need to come back and explain. It is beyond upsetting not knowing what we should be told,” he says, in an interview at his lawyer’s office.
“The family liaison officer is doing a good job; they’re doing the best they can, but we don’t feel we are getting the answers we want.”
You’re getting the answers that the police have. When they have more, you’ll get more. Why is this so hard to understand?
He still distrusts the official death toll, and is not convinced by the figures announced by police this week: that there were 350 people in the block when fire broke out, 255 survivors, and an overall death toll of 80. Choucair still believes that the real, higher, death toll is being withheld to quell an outbreak of public anger.
You can’t reason with people like this. So why give them endless columns and unlimited airtime?
Like many others who lost so much in the fire, he is angry that there have been no arrests. There is a sense among some relatives that the inquiry is being conducted in a very “gentlemanly fashion”, with investigators politely asking the council – the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) – and KCTMO, Grenfell’s management company, to volunteer the necessary evidence; Choucair says he has been surprised by this non-confrontational approach. “We don’t understand why people haven’t been brought in for questioning,” he says. “Are they scared? Do they need people to tell them that you’re supposed to be arresting people? That you have to bring people in and question them?”
You have to establish if there’s been a crime first. Then you need reasonable grounds. This isn’t the banana republic you hail from!
Why do people come to this country for ‘a better life’ and then complain it isn’t run like the country they’ve left?