DUBAI // The Lotus Garden Cafeteria was acquitted this morning of the food-poisoning deaths of the two D'Souza children nearly two years ago – although two of its workers were convicted.
Chelsea and Nathan D'Souza, ages eight and five, died after eating a meal from the restaurant in 2009.
The cafeteria's Nepalese chef and his Filipino supervisor, plus an Iraqi doctor, were all sentenced today to a suspended six months in prison and a Dh20,000 fine each. The court also ordered them to jointly pay Dh400,000 in blood money to the D'Souza parents.
But Hussain al Banai, who represented the restaurant in Al Qusais, had argued the Municipality had gathered samples for testing from the restaurant's rubbish rather than from the kitchen.
He told the court that about 120 people who ate the same food on the same day as Chelsea and Nathan were unaffected. He added that even the food samples collected from the restaurant's rubbish showed non-fatal levels of bacteria.
Mohammad al Suwaidi, the lawyer for the Iraqi doctor, had argued that the drug lidocaine was found in the siblings' bodies and may have caused their deaths.
In February, the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours fined the doctor, the restaurant, the chef and the supervisor Dh10,000 each and ordered them to jointly pay Dh200,000 in blood money.
The court found that the restaurant staffers had breached hygiene standards in the way they stored food, which allowed harmful bacteria to grow. It found the doctor, who worked at NMC Hospital, negligent in her treatment of the children.
The children, their mother and their housemaid ate takeaway food from the restaurant at 7.30pm on June 13, 2009. By 2am, they had all begun feeling sick and started vomiting.
Within two days, both Nathan and Chelsea were dead.