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UK News

Family lawyer of pastor who drowned calls for secondary investigation as hotel operator insists deaths were a tragic accident

by Press Association

The lawyer for the family of a pastor who drowned with his children in a Spanish resort's swimming pool has said they may open a parallel investigation if the cause of death is not clear. 

On Saturday, lawyer Javier Toro acting for the family told reporters: "It's not normal and very weird that three people died in the centre of a pool.

"The family is not satisfied with the interpretation of it being a simple accident."

An online petition calling for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to hold an investigation into the incident has got more than 20,000 signatures.

However, claims by the grieving pastor's wife are "directly at odds with the findings of the police report", the hotel's operator has said.

Olubunmi Diya - whose daughter Comfort Diya, nine, son Praise-Emmanuel Diya, 16, and husband Pastor Gabriel Diya, 52 - died on Christmas Eve at the Club La Costa World in Fuengirola, said she believed "something was wrong with the pool that must have made swimming difficult for them at that point in time".

CLC World Resorts and Hotels has issued a statement which stresses that police findings "makes it clear that their exhaustive investigations have confirmed the pool was working normally and there was no malfunction of any kind".

The statement added: "We would emphasise that these are findings of the police investigation and not our own internal findings as has been wrongly reported by some media.

"CLC can confirm that the pool remains closed out of respect to the victims of this tragedy and that guests have been, and are being, directed to other pools.

"Our sympathies remain with the family at what we understand must be a stressful and desperately upsetting time for them."

The hotel operator also pointed to police tests which "determine that it is a tragic accident due to the lack of expertise in swimming of the victims".

In contrast, Mrs Diya has said her deceased loved ones, who were reportedly on holiday with another unharmed daughter, were able to swim, were not left unattended  and were somehow "dragged into the middle" of the pool.

They followed the instructions displayed by the poolside at all times, according to a statement released by Mrs Diya.

The hotel operator also referred to a translation of a Guardia Civil report which suggests that after the investigation it has carried out so far, "including the personal statements of the other two family members, who were the only direct witnesses to the incident, the police indicate that we are facing a tragic accident caused by the lack of expertise of the victims when swimming when they went into the deep zone of the swimming pool where they could not make footing".

Praise-Emmanuel went to help Comfort when she got into trouble in a deep area of the pool - but he also had the same problems, according to the English translation of the police report.

Pastor Diya then went to rescue the children - "an action that he could not perform because he did not know how to swim" - and the attempts to resuscitate the family  failed.

The translation also says staff from the Underwater Activities Group of the Guardia Civil "conducted several tests on the pool water purification and recycling system, which included engines, and valves, as well as a dive to collect possible traces of evidence.

It adds: "They found no irregularity in the aforementioned inspections although they recovered a swimming cap owned by the nine-year-old, which was in the pool.

"Similarly, police officers collected water samples, which are currently being analysed at the Centre for Toxicology.

"The autopsy of the bodies indicates that they died by drowning, discounting in principle, some type of chemical poisoning.

"Likewise, the bodies did not show any signs indicating bumps or scratches which would have been produced by anything connected to the pool's operating system."

Pastor Diya has been remembered as a "loving husband and devoted father" by members of his church.

Pastor Agu Irukwu, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, also described Pastor Diya as "humble, friendly and a committed pastor and Christian leader" to his congregation in Charlton, south-east London.

Friend and fellow pastor Lemmy Gbenga Ayodele added: "Good night my very good friend, Pastor Diya. When you said 'bye and seeing you later' a few days ago I didn't know you meant eternity. Difficult to comprehend and still like a dream that you went with two of your children."

Comfort, meanwhile, was remembered as "the most wonderfully kind, thoughtful, caring pupil who was a role model for all her peers" in a statement by Jo Marchant, executive headteacher at Windrush Charlton primary school, which the youngster attended.

She said Comfort would be "greatly missed by the whole school community, adults and children alike".

Ms Marchant said the "extremely distressing news" of the deaths had "devastated" everyone at the school, and support would be provided for any pupil or parent who needs it.

According to The Sunday Times, the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Charlton will not hold a service on Sunday as a number of the church's senior members have travlled to Spain to support Mrs Diya. 

Additional reporting by Tola Mbakwe

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