Al-Dana owner convicted of involuntary manslaughter

24 May, '07

Convicted criminal Abdulla Mubarak Al-Kobaisi - picture credit Al-Wasat Newspaper

المحكمة فقالت في حيثيات حكمها: «ننوه إلى أن بشاعة وفظاعة ما أثاره المتهمان من جرم واستهانتهما واستخفافهما بأقدار ومصائر الناس، وما سببه من حزن وألم خيّم على مملكتنا الحبيبة، وبقاع عدة في الأرض، لا يدع لهذه المحكمة المجال لإعمال أي قسط من الرأفة، وهو ما تقضي معه المحكمة بالحد الأقصى لعقوبة الجريمة الأشد، وهي القتل الخطأ بظروفه المشددة، وفق ما ورد بأحكام المادة 243 من قانون العقوبات».
الوسط – ٢٤ مايو ٢٠٠٧

The Court notes the horror and brutality of the crime perpetrated by the two defendants and their complete disregard and contempt for the fate and destiny of the people and what they caused in grief and bereavement within and without our beloved kingdom which does not allow this Court any leeway for clemency and necessitates the application of the maximum penalty for the crime – which is the causing of wrongful death under duress, according to article 243 of the Penal Code.

I’m not sure that this is enough. The criminal is out on only BD10,000 bail which is a minuscule amount considering the committed crime, and of course he will have the legal right to appeal the verdict. There are; however, civil proceedings brought against him by the survivors and the families of of he dead which I hope will ensure that this sort of gross negligence will not happen again in the future.

What is to be learnt from this experience though?

For one thing, don’t cut safety corners just for the sake of making the country appear that it is bringing in investment. That – as this case has proven – is rather short sighted and futile.

Another thing is the culpability of the government agencies who readily gave the Al-Dana operators the various licenses without any regard to ensure the safety of the vessel and physically follow-up to ensure that safety standards were respected and that its sailors are sufficiently capable of running the boat before final approvals are given.

The departments and ministries involved in the licensing and over-seeing this venture should at least be censured so that internal processes get overhauled to ensure that no shortcut is readily utilised to potentially cause loss or disruption of life in the future.

Why the rulings did not censure the government departments involved is probably due to the workings of the Court system and how the law actually works, it was probably not within its mandate to do so. Therefore it is vitally important that the parliament does its job by creating its own investigative committee to now investigate the shortcomings of those departments and put in legislation or any other over-sight tools to ensure that lessons learnt are put in place and enacted.

The government itself of course should have mounted its own investigation into these shortcomings immediately this disaster happened; if it had, then it should be transparent about it and let us know what steps have been taken and if it has removed those responsible for this negligence on the government’s part from their positions or whatever other remedial actions it has taken.

Once again I offer my heart felt condolences to the bereaved and I understand how they must feel that this ruling will not bring their loved ones back, nor will it suffice to ameliorate their pain felt since the disaster and for the rest of their own lives. I urge them to continue with a class-action law suit against both the owners of the dhow-of-death as well as the government for its culpability in this affair by their gross negligence and flouting of laws and safety standards.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Teflon Religion says:

    Mahmoud

    Anyone running a book on whether this guy does any jail time at all ?

    I will take a punt on not a single day , but do not think that odds would favour a bet.

    What about the poor Indian “Captain” we all know that he would have done precisely , what he was told , “No if’s, No Buts”

    so why has he been hung out to dry in Bahrains new “enlightened years” we all know he would have had no way of saying no , so why not just let him go ? 13 months is long enough. I am sure none of the relatives of the dead think he is to blame.

    I have a great love for Bahrain, but the ones in power can sure “talk the talk” better than they can “walk the walk”

  2. mahmood says:

    No, you would be on a loser if you bet against him ever spending a day in prison. That’s why it is important for the relatives and survivors to pursue civil cases against him and his company.

    As to the so called captain, he was hung to dry by the court:

    وعما أثاره دفاع المتهم الثاني من توافر ركن الإكراه في حق المتهم من جانب المدعو سيمون هيل الذي أمره بالإبحار، فإنه وإن كان الثابت من الأوراق أن الأخير أمر المتهم بالإبحار صارخاً عليه، فإن ذلك بذاته لا يصل للإكراه المعدم للإرادة الذي تعتد به المحكمة، إذ إن مجرد صدور أمر من شخص لو كان بحدّه في اللفظ أو بالسباب لا يوجب على المتهم طاعته، وخصوصاً أنه أعلم الناس بما كان عليه حال البانوش قبل الإقلاع وهو ما تلتفت معه المحكمة في هذا الدفع.

    Which essentially translates to that the captain cannot be absolved from his responsibility as “shouting at someone and demanding that they act in a certain manner does not absolve them from their incumbent responsibility to refuse to acquiesce to criminal endeavors, especially in the full knowledge that other humans might suffer due to accepting such demands” – now I am not sure if this also applies to the military because they will suffer from a huge mutiny if they apply the same decision!

    But I agree with the ruling in this particular case; people should not be coerced into an endeavour because of fear of retribution, which is the basic premise of all human laws: rights are and should always be above laws.

    Therefore, I understand that this particular ruling has negating the “Terrorism Law”, the “Gatherings and Demonstrations Law” and a plethora of other laws recently inculcated specifically to take away human rights.

    I hope that the human rights institutions and activists take up this particular ruling for what it is and use it to defeat those laws.

  3. Just me says:

    On 20th August 1989 the gravel dredger BOWBELLE collided with the pleasure vessel MARCHIONESS. As a result of the collision, 51 people lost their lives.

    Although the captain of the ship was acquitted, a formal investigation and judicial inquiry were conducted:

    http://www.marchioness-bowbelle.org.uk/

    Subsequently the Government asked the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Port of London Authority and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to work together to set up a dedicated Search and Rescue service for the tidal River Thames. Consequently, on the 2 January 2002, the RNLI set up four lifeboat stations at Gravesend, Tower Pier, Chiswick Pier and Teddington.

    To me, the marchioiness disaster was a complete accident, no one in particular was at fault, however, the British government still strived to implement a more effective rescue procedures.

    In Bahrain, 58 people died because of pure human misjudgement. Our problem is a major missing link of ‘self-criticism’ and learning the lessons that come about because of serious accidents and loss of life. How do we prevent this from happening again? How do we improve standards of safety? Whether it is people getting on boats or driving on streets or drowning in sewage holes.

  4. Teflon Religion says:

    Mahmoud

    I thought the human rights issue was a “done deal” in Bahrain. I am sure that a certain Khalifa was “Lauded and Hailed” for her performance at the magnificent, but impotent, United Nation Building earlier this year. Stating how Bahrain was plunging headlong into freedoms of all kinds and for all kinds of people,

    “Magnificent for the region as whole” , “trail blazers” , “an example to be followed” yadha yadha yadha !! did not the trade agreement with the USA demand these measures to be put into place.

    (I am sure you can see the tongue in my cheek with a hint of a grin)

    Well – in my many years Bahrain I have not seen any improvements to the life and lot of the average Asian ex pat . it is painfull to see their faces when in front of the full onslaught of an employer totally impervious to the fact that the person in front of then is a human being.

    You know it and I know it so do the majority of you readers. Its a National and global scandal under the human rights act, but no one does a thing ( I am not singling out arabs for perpetrating these deeds, other nationalities including my own seem to be afflicted by the same disease when in the region, they would not get away with it here)

    The Captain was innocent, he had no way of taking on his masters , no choice , the same applies to all the souls packed onto the back of open pickup trucks or hundreds of feet up a scaffold with no protection other than a prayer to god that he stays put.

    I have a great love for Bahrain, but I am distressed when I see how much is being done wrong in the name of all sorts of things , chiefly greed and so called progress.

    Thankfully I can feel from the comments of my own Bahraini friends and your posts and indeed the responces, that maybe the tide will turn.

    In the meanwhile our poor Captain can languise in jail dreaming of his life on the open waves (oh forgot he never pretended to be a Captain did he !!)

    Keep up the good work my man

  5. Teflon Religion says:

    Hey sillybahrainigirl ,(sure your not that silly really)

    why the heavy sigh ?????

  6. Rancher says:

    What’s your all take on the violence and did Khawaja call for regime change? Pretty sure your not free enough to say something like that.

  7. Salman says:

    Who bets he will walk a free man with a royal pardon? Or a financial compensation to the families of the victims by someone?

  8. ukhti ninja says:

    Im of many words but which most i can not repeat in a public place as this. Im truely disgusted to say the utter least. As families around the world continue to suffer 1 man walks free on bail of 10 grand whilst another poor man who acted upon the orders of his boss sits in jail for the last 13 months. I smell alot of discrimination here.
    As what is called a strct muslim these days, i can say of which i am one, i would like to see every family that is envoloved in this happeing stand infront of this mr bahraini and tell him to his face how they feel and their suffering. Let him face the pain and suffering, what would he do Allah forbid that something happen to his family ? money doesnt buy back lost souls.

    My younger sibling is the freind of the late Mr Moody’s son. Mr Moodys son has had to go about his daily activites as a teenager with the thoughts that he wont ever see his father again, a child that looked up to his father with much love and as a role model.
    These now orphan children are striving each day to take steps to get back to some normacy which wont ever be complete due to the greedy actions of a man with money in his pocket trying to make even more money and not take the safety of his vessel into consideration before telling the staff to launch.

    Id like to see how Mr bahraini will be answering to all these kids, lets see how much mercy he has in his heart and concern for their suffering. 10 grand is peanuts considering 50 odd people died that night. jail and another 100 grand + is needed.

    Shariah needs to be implemented in full, its about time something was done around here, too mnay bad people are getting let loose while the decent people with morals and manners are being jailed.

    WHERE IS THE JUSTICE ? la howla wa la quwatta illah billah.

    Peace be upon all those who died.

  9. mahmood says:

    Shariah needs to be implemented in full

    If it was, then he would have already walked away free: or haven’t you heard of “Qada’ wa Qadar”

    The concept of Al Qada Wa Qadar, the fifth article of faith, relates to this topic and means that Allah has decreed or preordained all that a human being will do with his free will.

    Qadr also implies measurement in that, all the events in the world will coincide with what Allah has decreed in exact measurement. Allah, subhana wa talla, says in his Holy Book: “Verily, all things have We created in proportion and measure.” (Al-Qur`an, 54:49)

    I personally am thankful that Shari’a is not implemented in full in Bahrain (yet) and will diligently work with others to ensure that it does not any time soon.

  10. Proud Bahraini says:

    If you mean The Al-Dana Mall Owner then OMG 😕 i used to work there for a couple of weeks

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