ABU DHABI // A hotel restaurant's head chef and the hotel's general manager were cleared today in appeals court of any liability in the food-poisoning death of a diner.
Amr al Azhary died after eating with his fiancee at Al Fanar in Le Royal Meridien on May 7, 2010. Prosecutors charged JD, the chef, and ID, the manager, with negligence leading to death after clearing the hospital where Mr al Azhary was treated of all charges.
JD was in charge of receiving food orders, assigning chefs to prepare the food, supervising the process and ensuring the food's safety, prosecutors said. ID, in his capacity as a manager, was responsible for the chefs and their work standards, they added.
The Court of Misdemeanours acquitted them on December 12. Justices instead blamed a doctor at Al Salama Hospital for prescribing medicine without a proper diagnosis, and ordered a new investigation. Prosecutors appealed, insisting the restaurant and hotel were liable.
The Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal' verdict today may be appealed at the Court of Cassation.
On the night of his death, Mr al Azhary and his fiancee ate seafood and duck liver at the restaurant, leaving at midnight.
After he drove his fiancee to her home, according to his family, he started to feel dizzy and later fell asleep on the couch.
"Symptoms of poison appeared at 6am, a few hours after he had the food," prosecutors told the Court of Appeal.
Medical tests showed that Mr al Azhary died from severe food poisoning, probably the result of eating food containing salmonella bacteria.
The Misdemeanours Court justices noted in their ruling that Mr al Azhary had felt pain immediately after leaving the restaurant and had consulted a doctor at Al Salama, who prescribed medication for him without performing any tests.
The justices pointed out that doctors consulted by the court did not all agree the food contained salmonella and that there was no evidence of negligence on the part of the hotel employees.
They also noted that the hospital did not have an internal medicine doctor, which they said was evidence of negligence.
Experts who testified in the original case said this was so, but also noted that no doctor would have been able to save Mr al Azhary when he arrived at the hospital.
"It is established, by the medical reports and all the doctors who testified, that the victim died from food poisoning that resulted from eating fish that were not well cooked," prosecutors told the appeals court.
"It cannot be argued that the victim was poisoned from another food, as investigations showed the food he had at the hotel was the last food he had," they said. "Symptoms of poisoning appeared immediately after he went to his home, a few hours after having dinner."
JD and ID "breached the ethics of their profession," prosecutors said. "Arguing about the type of bacteria is pointless and would not make any difference after medical tests showed the victim died from food poisoning."
They also disputed the accuracy of the lower court's finding that the doctor did not properly examine the patient. In their evidence, medical experts said the medication was properly prescribed and the doctor did not breach normal medical practice.