ABU DHABI // A hotel restaurant's head chef and the hotel's general manager should have been held responsible for the death of a diner from food poisoning, prosecutors argued before an appeals court yesterday.
Amro Alazhari died after dining with his fiancee at Al Fanar in Le Royal Meridien on May 7, 2010. JD, the head chef of the restaurant, and ID, the general manager and legal representative of the hotel, both French, were charged with negligence leading to death.
The Court of Misdemeanours acquitted them on December 12. The justices blamed a doctor at Al Salama Hospital for prescribing medicine without a proper diagnosis, and ordered a new investigation. Prosecutors then appealed.
On the night of his death Mr Alazhari and his fiancee ate seafood and duck liver and left the restaurant at midnight. After he drove his fiancee to her home, according to his family, he started to feel dizzy and fell asleep on the couch.
"Symptoms of poison appeared at 6am, a few hours after he had the food," prosecutors told the Court of Appeals yesterday.
Medical tests showed that Mr Alazhari died from severe food poisoning, probably the result of eating food containing salmonella bacteria.
The Misdemeanours Court justices noted in their ruling that Mr Alazhari had felt pain immediately after leaving the restaurant and had consulted a doctor at Al Salama hospital, who prescribed medication for him without performing any tests.
The justices pointed out that doctors consulted by the court did not all agree the food contained salmonella and there was no evidence of negligence on the part of the two hotel employees.
They also noted that the hospital did not have an internal medicine doctor, which they said was evidence of negligence.
Experts who gave evidence in the original case said this was so, but they also said no doctor would have been able to save Mr Alazhari's life when he arrived at the hospital.
"It is established, by the medical reports and all the doctors who testified, that the victim died from food poisoning that resulted from eating fish that were not well cooked," prosecutors told the appeals court.
"It cannot be argued that the victim was poisoned from another food, as investigations showed the food he had at the hotel was the last food he had," they said. "Symptoms of poisoning appeared immediately after he went to his home, a few hours after having dinner."
JD was in charge of receiving food orders, assigning chefs to prepare the food, supervising the process and ensuring the food's safety, prosecutors said. ID, in his capacity as a manager, was responsible for the chefs and their work standards, they added.
"The two breached the ethics of their profession," prosecutors said.
"Arguing about the type of bacteria is pointless and would not make any difference after medical tests showed the victim died from food poisoning."
They also disputed the accuracy of the lower court's finding that the doctor did not properly examine the patient. In their evidence, medical experts said the medication was properly prescribed and the doctor did not breach normal medical practice.
Prosecutors said that there was clear evidence that the death resulted from negligence, and asked the appeals court to convict JD and ID.
The court will issue a verdict on March 6.