Fury over delay in dhow tragedy payout
Manama, December 14, 2010
Survivors of the Al Dana dhow tragedy have questioned Bahrain's legal system after their four-year battle for compensation was delayed again.
A group of people who lived through the disaster gathered at the High Civil Court to hear the testimony of two survivors.
However, they were not allowed to speak and instead the boat's captain was called to testify, with the trial adjourned to January 24. The judge declared the court should hear Rajendra Kumar Ramjibhai's account of the disaster and was told he was in India.
The Indian, who was earlier convicted of manslaughter and jailed for three years before being deported, will now be summoned through an announcement in the Official Gazette.
But survivors reacted angrily to the decision after twice being promised a verdict would be issued.
'We are losing faith in the judicial system that we have so honourably supported and trusted,' said one of the group seeking compensation, who did not wish to be named.
Another survivor questioned the repeated delays and questioned why the court had not made such requests earlier.
'I want to know why the witnesses were not questioned and why haven't the court sorted all this before,' he said.
'Why wasn't this issue addressed before the verdict? It is absolutely ridiculous and I do not know why the government is not doing anything about it.
'I think the justice system is failing. We have two men who took time off work to come to testify and they were never seen.
'Also why do they want this captain to come from India? Who will pay to bring him all the way from India and be put up in a hotel?
'What happens if this captain says he will not come back?'
The survivors added they were not hopeful of an end to the case at the next hearing.
Fifty-eight people died when the dhow capsized during a Nass, Murray and Roberts party to celebrate the completion of work at the Bahrain World Trade Centre on March 30, 2006.
The South African company hired the vessel from Island Tours, which leased it from Abdulla Al Kobaisi Company for Travel and Tourism.
Al Kobaisi was earlier convicted of manslaughter and jailed for five years.
However, he was spared prison after offering to compensate survivors and relatives of the victims. Ramjibhai was released early due to good behaviour and deported to India.
Forty-six survivors, including Bahrainis, Britons, South Africans, Indians, Pakistanis, a Filipino, Thai and Taiwanese, are involved in separate civil claims for compensation.-TradeArabia News Service