Officials inspect the site of accident. File
Ehab Atta, Staff Reporter
The 53-year-old Omani bus driver of the tourist bus who caused the death of 17 people and injured 13 others, has been sentenced to seven years in jail, which will be followed by deportation, the Traffic Court in Dubai ruled on Thursday.
The convict will have to pay a blood money of Dhs3.4 million in total to the heirs of the 17 deceased with Dhs200,000 to each, the Court added. He has been also slapped with a fine of Dhs50,000 and his driving license will be suspended for one year, the judgment included.
The Court found the convict guilty of unintentionally killing and injuring a number of people in the case termed by the media as the "Eid incident" which shocked the UAE society during the last day of Eid Al Fitr.
The accident resulted in death of 17 people and injury of 13 others, because of the driver’s failure to abide by instructions on the road.
The Head of the Dubai Traffic Prosecution, Salah Bu Faroucha Al Felaasi asked the jury to hand him the toughest punishment applicable, to serve as a deterrent for others. “His carelessness caused a painful incident,” he said.
“He was driving at more than twice the speed limit in an undesignated lane on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road when he rammed the bus into a height barrier at Rashidiyah exit,” Al-Falasi confirmed.
The convict also confessed to manslaughter at the Dubai Traffic Court.
Prosecutors charged him with wrongfully causing the death of seventeen passengers. They also charged him with causing harm to thirteen others who escaped with varied injuries, and inflicting the bus with grave damage.
The victims were returning from Eid Al Fitr holidays in Oman. He was not following road signs nor using the compulsory route. He used a lane allocated for cars and thus crashed the bus into the height restriction barrier.
Before the Court, the defendant acknowledged the incident but argued that the sun was shining directly in his face. “I could not see well. I pulled down the bus’s small curtain to protect the eyes from the sun’s rays.”
The defendant argued that at first he did not see the metallic height barrier. “The moment I saw it I tried to veer the bus and avoid the impact but failed and crashed into it,” he explained.
The speed limit for the lane where the incident happened was 40km/h. The defendant was driving at 94km/h. 15 died on impact. He will serve more than seven years in jail and pay Dhs3.4m in blood money (diya).
Al Felaasi revealed full coordination between the Traffic Court and the insurance company to provide blood money for the families of the victims as well as to communicate with the "families of the victims" as well, explaining that the sentence is subject to appeal within 15 days.
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