Dhow disaster survivors win compensation
Manama, February 2, 2012
Survivors of one of Bahrain's biggest disasters have been awarded BD2,000 ($5,304) compensation by the kingdom’s High Civil Court.
The court ordered the owner of the Al Dana dhow to pay the amount to each victim after finally reaching a verdict five years after the tragedy.
Fifty-eight people died and 72 were injured when the vessel capsized during a party to mark the completion of the concreting work at the Bahrain World Trade Centre on March 30, 2006.
Lawyer Ahmed Al Arrad, who is representing nearly 50 people seeking compensation, confirmed the Bahraini owner of the vessel Abdulla Al Kobaisi had been ordered to pay the compensation.
'The judge ruled that each person be given BD2,000, apart from three of the survivors, who are not on the list,' he said. 'The case is now closed from the primary court. However, the defendants and the prosecutors now have a 45-day period where they have the right to appeal the verdict if they wish.”
'I don't know from our side if any of the survivors will appeal, but they have the right to if they don't accept this settlement.'
Al Arrad said the names of the three survivors who would not get compensation would remain confidential.
Venu Gopalan, who was nominated as a spokesman for fellow survivors, yesterday said he would not comment on the ruling until he had talked to each claimant.
Forty-six survivors were involved in the fight for compensation after the vessel capsized off the coast of Muharraq.
The boat's Indian captain Rajendra Kumar Ramijibhai is in India having been released early from a three-year sentence for manslaughter in August 2008 and will no longer be called to appear.
South African company Nass, Murray and Roberts had hired the dhow from Island Tours, which in turn leased it from the Abdulla Al Kobaisi Company for Travel and Tourism.
Al Kobaisi was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for five years, but spared prison after offering to compensate survivors and relatives of the victims.
An out-of-court settlement was reportedly reached between the dhow owner and 98 per cent of survivors and relatives of people who died in the tragedy last April, it has been claimed. But the 46 survivors involved in the court case had rejected the idea that Mr Al Kobaisi could pay off survivors and the families of victims without serving his sentence.
They include Bahrainis, Britons, South Africans, Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Thais and Taiwanese, who rejected an initial offer of BD500 as 'disgusting' and took the case to court.
Survivors initially lodged a complaint seeking compensation in 2006 and the case first appeared in the High Civil court in July 2010. – TradeArabia News Service