Ship owner cleared of Dubai coast storm deaths

The sailors drowned after a strong storm caused their ship to capsize

Pedestrians walk past Dubai's courts building during a hearing on April 04, 2010 in the case of a British couple sentenced to a month in jail after being convicted of kissing in public in a restaurant in the Muslim Gulf emirate. The couple's lawyer said the appeals court upheld the one-month prison sentence against the two, named by the British press as Ayman Najafi, 24, a British expat, and tourist Charlotte Lewis, 25. The couple were arrested in November 2009, after they were accused of consuming alcohol and kissing in a restaurant in the trendy Jumeirah Beach Residence neighbourhood.     AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo by AFP)
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An Iranian ship owner accused of causing the death of three sailors off the coast of Dubai has been cleared of manslaughter by a Dubai court.

Judge Ayman Abdul Hakam initially cleared the man, 56, of all charges in July 2018. The decision was upheld by Dubai Court of Appeal and on Thursday, by the emirate’s highest courts, the Court of Cassation — making the decision final.

On February 3, 2017, six sailors were aboard the Iranian man’s ship off Palm Deira when it overturned due to high winds and strong waves.

The captain of the ship allegedly told two of the men to jump with him but all three — aged 18 to 30 — drowned. One of their bodies was recovered the next day while the two others were found a week later. The three other sailors, who remained on board, survived but were injured in the storm.

The ship’s owner was charged with causing wrongful deaths of three men and injuries of another three after failing to provide necessary safety equipment on board.

The owner denied the charges, saying there were two lifeboats, 20 life jackets and flares available on the ship.

A report by Dubai Maritime City Authority said the six men on board the ship were inexperienced and unprepared to assess or deal with the situation. It also found that the ship’s main engine was not working.

The judge acquitted the owner, saying he could not be held responsible for a storm.

"The incident happened due to force majeure and during its peak hour at 3pm. The storm that battered the ship was reported the strongest the country has recorded in the past 10 years," he said.

“Also, at the time of the incident, the ship’s captain took decisions and he ordered his men to jump, which led to the drowning.”