Officials inspect the site of the accident. File
Hamza M Sengendo, Staff Reporter
A bus driver behind the death of 17 and injury of 13 vacationers confessed to manslaughter at the Dubai Traffic Court on Tuesday.
The Omani driver, 53, 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 around 5.40pm on Jun.6.
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.
During court questioning 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 to Judge Ali Abdul Wahhab Ghunaim.
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 stressed, “The street where the incident happened had zero accidents over the past ten years.” The defendant’s lawyer asked for time to review the file. The jury turned down his request to release the defendant on bail.
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 faces more than seven years in jail and paying Dhs3.4m in blood money (diya). Case continues.
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"I hope whoever hears my words will support, even if it is with the word. We need to feel that we can heal each other’s wounds, support each other. I wish all of you success until we meet at the celebration that will mark Lebanon’s freedom. That day will come. "