Defence lawyers of an Omani bus driver who hit a height restriction barrier killing 17 passengers in Dubai in June, have claimed that several errors led to the crash that aren’t the driver’s fault, a court heard on Thursday.
The driver’s lawyer Mohammad Al Saberi told Dubai Court of Appeal that a request to appoint an expert to examine the crash site had earlier been dismissed by the Dubai Traffic Court.
Unpeturbed, they contacted an independent expert to analyse the scene and provided all documents and pictures related to the crash site to a professional engineering consultant and head of a road and safety facility in Australia to examine the incident and provide a report.
“His report stated that there were several obvious errors that led to the crash, and they were not the responsibility of the driver,” said Al Saberi. “The expert’s report stated that the distance between the warning signboard and the height barrier was only 12 metres and it should be a minimum of 48 metres,” Al Saberi told judges.
“The report said that the barrier should have been made of a different material that would break into pieces if an impact happened to warn violating cars without causing death and injury.”
He said that the errors made it very hard for the 53-year-old driver to see the warning boards clearly as the sun was shining in his eyes.
Al Saberi told the court that a report prepared by the company that owns the bus which he submitted to the traffic Court found the Roads and Transports Authority (RTA) at fault in eight different instances, but the report was also dismissed.
The driver, who was charged of causing the wrongful death of 17 passengers and injuring 13 others, was sentenced to seven years in jail and was ordered to pay Dh3.4 million in blood money to the families of the victims by Dubai Traffic Court in July.
The Muscat-to-Dubai Mwasalat bus service struck an overhead height barrier at 94 km/h on June 6 at the turn off from Mohammad Bin Zayed Road leading onto Rashidiya Road, where it was due to make a scheduled stop at Rashidiya Metro. The driver took a wrong left turn, instead of right, into a section not designated for buses.
Twelve Indians, two Pakistanis, an Irish, Omani and Filipina, were killed in the accident.
Defence lawyers asked the court to appoint an expert to examine the crash site and write a report to the court.
Second defence lawyer Mohammad Al Tamimi, has also requested a list of similar accidents from the same location be presented to court.
The trial has been adjourned until October 31.