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The Dubai Courts and Public Prosecution building. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: A man who is accused of accidentally causing a woman’s death in a shisha fire in Dubai will have a retrial to prove his innocence.

According to Emirati lawyer Bader Khamis from World Centre Advocates and Legal, who represents the 37-year-old defendant, the Dubai Court of Cassation has ordered that the case be returned to the Appeal Court for retrial after  his client was handed a suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay Dh200,000 in blood money.

Bader Khamis

According to Dubai Public Prosecution records, the 37-year-old defendant was smoking shisha with his Ethiopian friend at a majlis in a country house in the Lehbab area when flying ash from the coal from the shisha left outside the majlis caused a fire, blocking the way in front of the duo.

The man told Dubai Criminal Court that he went with his friend to the country farm in March last year and asked a worker to set up the coal for the shisha. The shisha coal was placed two metres away from the majlis door, where sofas were placed. The pair smoked shisha for 45 minutes before the defendant suddenly noticed flames outside the majlis. “I yelled out to her [the friend] and told her to escape and jumped over the flames to safety. However, she didn’t follow me as she was afraid and stayed inside,” the defendant said on record. “I tried to extinguish the fire with the workers there, using buckets of water, but we failed as the blaze had spread everywhere in the majlis.”

The medical report showed that the victim had died from inhaling the smoke and then suffered burn injuries while still inside the majlis. Reports confirmed that there was no foul-play behind the death. “We appealed the verdict as my client is innocent. The wind factor had caused the blaze. Particles of coal flew to the sheets on the sofa and caused the fire in the majlis. The defendant tried to rescue the woman and urged her to leave the place quickly, but she was frightened and she hesitated,” Khamis said in his defence arguments.

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The Dubai Court of Appeal upheld the one-year suspended jail sentence issued by Dubai Court of First Instance but the Dubai Cassation Court ordered to return the case for a retrial.