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IRA Canary Wharf bomb victim Zaoui Berezag dies in Stepney nursing home after 22 years

PUBLISHED: 10:00 12 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:56 12 July 2018

Zaoui Berzag who dies aged 77 in Stepney nursing home 22 years after being badly injured in Canary Wharf IRA bombing. Picture: Mike Brooke

Zaoui Berzag who dies aged 77 in Stepney nursing home 22 years after being badly injured in Canary Wharf IRA bombing. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

A victim of the Libya-IRA Canary Wharf bombing has died in a nursing home in Stepney after living 22 years with his injuries.

Zaoui Berzag at 20th anniversary memorial in February 2016 of IRA Canary Wharf bombing. Picture: Mike Brooke Zaoui Berzag at 20th anniversary memorial in February 2016 of IRA Canary Wharf bombing. Picture: Mike Brooke

Zaoui Berezag died at 2.30am on Tuesday aged 77, having lived with brain injury and other medical conditions since the bombing of the Midland Bank HQ in 1996.

He was in a car outside the building when the bomb exploded after he finished a cleaning shift and was on his home to the nearby Barkantine Estate in Millwall which was also badly damaged by the blast.

Two men died in the explosion and another 50 people were injured.

The family had also suffered tragedy when Zaoui’s wife Gemma took her own life two years ago after struggling for 20 years to look after him round-the-clock.

Jonathan Ganesh, injured in 1996 IRA Canary Wharf bombing. Picture source: Docklands Victims Assoc Jonathan Ganesh, injured in 1996 IRA Canary Wharf bombing. Picture source: Docklands Victims Assoc

They are part of a campaign by the Docklands Victims Association seeking compensation from then Libyan regime that supplied semtex to the IRA to carry out bombing atrocities across Britain, including Canary Wharf.

The association, led by former Midland Bank security guard Jonathan Ganesh who was injured in the blast, has campaigned for the government to use some of the £7.5 billion frozen assets before the last victims die, now believed to be worth £12bn kept in London banks by former dictator Colonel Gaddafi.

But the government won’t touch it because the assets were seized under EU directives and held under UN edicts and technically “belongs to the Libya people”.

Mr Ganesh told the East London Advertiser: “Zaoui was one of the people who should have benefited most from the compensation we have been fighting for.”

Bomb devastation at Canary Wharf in February 1996. Picture source: Republic Gallery Bomb devastation at Canary Wharf in February 1996. Picture source: Republic Gallery

But the Dockland families’ pleas have now come too late for father-of-three Zaoui.

One of his children, Rajaa Berezag, 31, who was only nine when she ‘lost’ the father she knew, urged the government this week to “help people before it is too late”. Her father’s death did not mean she would give up the struggle.

She insisted: “I will fight for his honour the rest of my life. It is important that I keep my dad’s spirit and his legacy alive.”

Lord Empey, who is campaigning to secure compensation, accused the government of “a policy of letting victims die out before any justice is received”.

He demanded: “How many more first generation innocent victims will go to their grave failed by a political system which pays ‘lip service’ to their needs, but is found wanting in its failure to deliver?”

The Docklands campaigners were close to success after lobbying Boris Johnson, but now had a setback with his resignation this week as Foreign Secretary.

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