x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Boss of pest-control firm linked to baby deaths has cancer

Man responsible for pesticide that poisoned baby triplets was finally freed from prison last month, only to be told of his own health battle.

Suhail and Ali Bakari died from inhaling pesticide, but their sister Hala recovered after days in hospital.
Suhail and Ali Bakari died from inhaling pesticide, but their sister Hala recovered after days in hospital.

AJMAN // A fumigation company boss who was jailed over the death of two babies has been found to have tongue cancer a month after being released from prison, his family says.

Abdul Rahman Yousuf Ali, 53, from India, was sentenced to four years behind bars along with two of his employees after the death of five-month-old brothers Suhail and Ali Bakari last year.

The babies, who were two of triplets, died in March last year after the men fumigated a neighbour's flat. The chemicals blew into the flat next door through the ventilation system.

Their sister Hala recovered after days in hospital.

The men's sentences were reduced to six months on appeal, but Mr Ali remained in prison for about 18 months because he could not afford to pay the Dh400,000 blood money.

Last month the three were released after the blood money was raised, but Mr Ali was found to have tongue cancer after returning to India and consulting with doctors.

"It's sheer bad luck," said his brother, Rahman Kabeer, 48, who lives in Ajman where he runs a trading company.

"We were happy that he was released from the jail. But the news that he has cancer has shattered us. Our joy was short-lived."

Mr Kabeer said the Indian Community Welfare Committee (ICWC) raised part of the funds to cover the blood money for the three prisoners.

K Kumar, the president of the ICWC, said the men were released last week and sent back to India.

"It's a very unfortunate incident; it was not a premeditated murder," Mr Kumar said. "'So we thought to help them out. Even the family members of the jailed men worked hard to raise the money."

He said ICWC had contributed Dh200,000 towards the blood money, while the rest was collected by friends of relatives of the three.

"As soon as he was released from the jail he was sent to India," said Mr Kabeer.

"He never knew that he was suffering with cancer until doctors checked his health and told him about his condition. The entire family is devastated."

The family is from Kerala, where Mr Ali has two daughters and a wife.

Mr Kabeer said his brother was undergoing chemotherapy at the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvanathapuram, the capital of Kerala.

"Chemotherapy is too expensive," he said. "We are planning to approach some charitable organisations in the UAE for help. We are not that rich that we can afford the treatment. He is not able to talk or eat food. Again, it's a new problem. We are struggling to cope."

Mr Kabeer said his brother was truly repentant about the deaths of the infants Suhail and Ali, and maintained he did not know how it happened. "He wants to apologise to the family," Mr Kabeer said.

Mr Ali's cousin, CI Ashraf, said the condition was very serious.

"We took him to the hospital and doctors said that he has to undergo surgery. It's really serious," Mr Ashraf said. "He was in jail for about 18 months. When he was released, we were all happy.

"Now he has encountered another problem, which seems to be bigger than the previous one. It's really sad."

Mr Ali's company, Al Fawaz Pest Control, has been shut.

In November 2009, the Ministry of Environment and Water banned 167 chemicals it said were a danger to people and the environment. Another 32 substances were listed to be used only by licensed operators.

But the sale of these dangerous chemicals is still common in small shops and on the black market.