A bus driver who was sent to jail after an accident in Dubai that killed 17 people two years ago had his sentence reduced to a year by the Court of Appeal.
In July 2019, Dubai Traffic Court sentenced him to seven years in prison, to be followed by deportation.
The accident happened on June 6, 2019, when the driver took a wrong exit from Mohamed bin Zayed Road leading on to Rashidiya Road.
Instead of going right, he took a left turn that was not designated for buses.
The lane had a height restriction barrier, which the driver said he did not see in time.
After seeing the barrier over the road, the driver swerved to avoid crashing into it, causing the barrier to cut through the roof of the left side of the bus. Most of the passengers seated on that side were killed. The bus ground to a halt 44 metres beyond the overhanging barrier.
Seventeen passengers who were travelling back to the UAE after spending their Eid Al Fitr holiday in Oman were killed and 13 were injured.
The Omani driver, 54, admitted to charges of causing the wrongful death of the passengers.
He told judges that the sun's glare obstructed his view, leading to the accident.
In July 2019, Dubai Traffic Court also fined the driver Dh50,000 and ordered him to pay Dh3.4 million to the families of the victims.
Two lawyers defending the driver took the case to the Appeal Court and argued that the barrier was wrongly placed on the motorway by the Roads and Transport Authority.
They said the RTA did not follow GCC standards and guidelines, which stipulates a 60-metre distance between height restriction chains and overhead barriers on a 60kph street.
"International and GCC standards state that such barriers should not be made of solid steel," lawyer Mohammed Saif Al Tamimi told the court.
Based on a request made by the lawyers, Dubai Court of Appeal assigned three engineering experts to examine the road and assess any construction flaws and if it was built according to international standards.
They were also asked to check for all warning signboards on the road, their positioning, and if they were clearly visible at all times.
The court reduced the driver’s sentence based on the report submitted by the experts.
The court ruled against the deportation clause but the driver will still have to pay the fine of Dh50,000 and Dh3.4 million in compensation.
The sentence was upheld by the Court of Cessation on Monday.