Fujairah: An Emirati woman accused of negligence over the death of her seven children killed in a January 2018 house fire in Rul Dhadna was acquitted at Dibba Fujairah Court on Monday.
The woman in her 40s was charged with negligence under the 2016 Wadeema Law, which safeguards children in the UAE from neglect and abuse, after she went out and allegedly left her children locked in a room.
The children died of carbon monoxide poisoning after a fire broke out in the living room due to faulty lighting.
The mother had claimed she was at home at the time of the blaze but police soon discovered this wasn’t the case and she had locked them inside of a room where they suffocated.
Having lost her husband to cancer in 2014, the woman was left to bring up her seven children alone.
In all she lost four girls and three boys aged between five and 13-years-old, including two twin girls aged five.
Salima Al Suraidi, the grieving mother, told Gulf News on Monday that she was happy with the verdict but it didn’t relieve the pain of losing her seven children.
“All my children died and I could not do anything for them, I hope they live happily in paradise,” she said.
She thanked everyone who had stood by her during the trial and offered their support during the hearings.
“This is the destiny of Almighty Allah and I believe in the Qadar (Divine Destiny)… I pray every day to God to provide me with patience to endure my pain. No words can express what a mother feels after losing her seven children at one time.”
She said that she was living with her sister and was still without accommodation after the fire. Her previous house is still in the same condition as when the tragedy took place.
At the time of the incident, the mother had told Gulf News, “All my children died and I could not do anything for them.”
After putting them to bed at around 10pm, she said, “At 3.45am, I woke up as I was having difficulty in breathing. The room was pitch dark. So I switched on my mobile phone light and saw my daughter Shouk, who was sleeping next to me, with a fixed stare, unmoving.
“I went to my twin daughters Sumaiya and Sara and found them dead. I then went to my daughter Shaikha who was sleeping next to her sister in the same room to find her breathing her last.
“I then rushed to the other room where my three sons slept to find my sons Khalifa and Ahmad dead, but Ali was still fighting for his life. He walked to the living room where he fell unconscious and died.”
After calling out for help, she said, “My brother rushed to my house and by then a thick smoke had engulfed the house. He covered his face with his ghotra (headdress) as he tried to save my children but they had already died of suffocation.”
Colonel Saif Rashid Al Zahmi, Director of Dibba Fujairah Police, confirmed to Gulf News that “lights were the cause of the fire.”
And Major-General Mohammad Ganem Al Kaabi, Commander-in-Chief of Fujairah Police, said they received an emergency call all too late, at 5.40am, making it difficult to save the children despite arriving on scene in record time.
Following this incident Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, directed UAE Civil Defence to immediately install fire alarm systems into every home at the expense of the government for those who can’t afford it.
In October of last year the Ministry of Interior launched a centralised smart fire alarm system called Hassantuk, which means ‘protect you’, to connect villas and home alarm systems across the country directly to emergency operation rooms.
The mother has been appearing at Dibba Fujairah Court for the past year, but she has now been found not guilty.
The verdict will be appealed.