The 53-year-old Omani bus driver involved in the Dubai road accident that killed 17 passengers has been released on bail.
Back in June, the driver, now identified as Saeed Al Baloushi, was charged over the wrongful death of 17 passengers and the injury of 13 others. Last month, he was sentenced to seven years in jail and ordered 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 man's lawyer had appealed the verdict, which has resulted in the defendant's release on bail on Thursday.
"We appealed against the verdict and the judges approved our request to bail the man," his lawyer Mohammad Al Tamimi told Gulf News.
"We explained to the court that the insurance company promised in a document to pay the blood money. We asked for a delay to prepare our defense," he added.
The Dubai Court of Appeal has pushed the case until September.
Oman's Embassy shared their sentiments in a tweet that reads:
"The Oman Embassy in Abu Dhabi is pleased to announce that the Dubai Court of Appeal has agreed in a hearing today to bail Saeed Al Baloushi, the Omani bus driver for Oman Transport Agency, until a date is scheduled for the hearing of defense lawyers. The embassy appreciates the court’s decision."
In July, the driver pleaded guilty to causing wrongful death before the Dubai Traffic Court, admitting he had lowered his sunshade and was thus unable to see the entire road at the time of the crash.
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.
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 [...]."