Couple speak out after Tunisia beach massacre inquests

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A Halifax couple who survived the horrific Tunisian beach terror attack have spoken out after an inquest into the devastation ruled against a finding of “neglect”.

Grandparents Bernadette and Richard Paciukanis, from Boothtown, Halifax, were sunbathing just yards away from where Seifeddine Rezgui struck on the Sousse beach in June 2015.

The barbaric attack, which saw the lone gunman fire at tourists on the beach, left 38 people dead.

Mr Paciukanis said he and his wife had been left upset by what they had heard over the course of the inquest into the deaths of the 30 Britons killed.

A verdict of “unlawful killing” was recorded.

“It was an unlawful killing - it had to be that,” Mr Paciukanis said.

“A lot of things came out through these hearings, like how slow the police were, how some of them never turned up and how they could have been quicker.”

He added that when they booked the holiday the previous year, nothing had happened and after the Bardo National Museum attack struck Tunisia in March 2015, the advice was just to “be careful”.

He added: “That’s all you can do. They never stopped people from going. Maybe if the Government said to people ‘don’t travel there’, we maybe would have gone somewhere else.

“I just think there should have been more security around the beach and around all the hotels, and for the presence to be felt from not just the police, but from the odd soldier here and there.”

The couple are still haunted by the massacre.

“It will stick with us for the rest of our lives,” said Mr Paciukanis. “I just hope that nobody else has to go through it.”

Grieving relatives of those killed are now preparing to sue travel firm TUI over the deaths of their loved ones at the hands of Islamic extremist Rezgui.

Lawyers said they planned civil proceedings against the tour operator after the coroner conducting the inquests of the 30 Britons murdered on the Mediterranean coast in Sousse ruled they were unlawfully killed.

However, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith ruled against a finding of “neglect” by Thomson owner TUI, or the owners of the Riu Imperial Marhaba.

Kylie Hutchison, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, which represents 22 victims’ families, said they had heard “shocking evidence about the level of security precautions at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel at the time of the terrorist attack”.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the inquests finished, she said: “It is now crucial that the whole travel industry learns from what happened in Sousse to reduce the risk of similar catastrophic incidents in the future.

“On behalf of our clients who lost members of their family and those who suffered injuries in this terrible incident, we will now be preparing to commence civil proceedings against TUI.”