A 53-year-old Omani bus driver has been sentenced to seven years following a crash in Dubai that left 17 people dead last month.
Last week, the driver pleaded guilty to causing wrongful death before the Dubai Traffic Court, admitting he had lowered his sun shade and was thus unable to see the entire road at the time of the crash.
His prison term was handed down to him during a court hearing on Thursday. Other than jail time, the driver will also have to pay 3.4 million dirhams ($925,701) in blood money to the victims' families as well as a 50,000-dirham-fine ($13,613). The Dubai Traffic Court ordered the driver to be deported after serving his jail term.
His license has also been suspended for one year.
The tourist bus, which routinely travels back and forth between Oman and the UAE, carried 31 passengers on June 6. The vehicle is operated by the Oman National Transport Company (Mwasalat) and travels between Muscat and Dubai on a daily basis. Warning signals are placed 342 meters ahead of the crash site, "indicating the right lanes and height requirements for all vehicles," alongside speed bumps signs. However, the driver took a road not designated for buses and exceeded the speed limit, driving at 94km/h despite the "40km/h" instruction.
He ultimately hit a height barrier that slashed through the left side of the bus, leading to the death of 17 passengers and the injury of 13 others. Twelve Indians, two Pakistanis, an Irish, Omani, and Filipina, were killed in the accident. Most passengers were asleep at the time of the crash.
"In addition, two big signboards are put up to remind motorists to stick to the appropriate lanes. One of the boards is located 317 meters from the crash site, while the other is found just before the metal barrier that tore through the bus," Khaleej Times reported.
Article 342 of the UAE's Penal Code stipulates a prison sentence ranging between three and seven years for any person who causes by his own mistake the death of over three persons if the crime results of his "failure to observe the ethics as dictated by his employment, profession or craft [...]."