x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Prisoner fears he will never see his mother

A driver involved in a fatal accident that killed 10 people remains in prison despite being pardoned as he cannot pay Dh2million in blood money.

Mr Al Rahman was sentenced to three years in jail for his role in causing the accident, but was pardoned in August 2008.
Mr Al Rahman was sentenced to three years in jail for his role in causing the accident, but was pardoned in August 2008.

DUBAI // Back in December 2006, things were looking up for Humayun Al Rahman. The 24-year-old from Pakistan had recently become engaged and was enjoying his job as a driver for a bus rental company. He remembers being full of hope for his new life in Dubai, where he had arrived just a year earlier.

"In five minutes everything changed," said Mr Al Rahman, now 30 and an inmate of Dubai Central Prison, where he was jailed after causing a crash that claimed the lives of 10 people.

He was transporting labourers from their accommodation in Jebel Ali to their workplace in Al Waraqaa on December 14, 2006, when he tried to overtake another bus near the Mall of the Emirates on Sheikh Zayed Road. He lost control of his vehicle as he did so, hit the road barrier and careered into the other side of the motorway. Ten people were killed and 50 injured in the ensuing crash with a minibus travelling in the opposite direction.

Mr Al Rahman lost consciousness briefly. When he awoke, there was a helicopter flying above him and the magnitude of what had happened dawned on him. "I realised it was a big accident, the first thing I did is to call the cops," he said. "I stood up and went to the other bus and helped in pulling a man free. His body was half inside the bus and the other half outside. As I pulled, he fell on me ... but I am not sure if he was dead or alive."

Mr Al Rahman's injuries meant he had to be transferred to Rashid Hospital, where he was treated for severe back pain before being sent to Bur Dubai Police Station.

Mr Al Rahman was sentenced to three years in jail for his role in causing the accident, but was pardoned in August 2008.

But the pardon has had little effect on his life. He cannot be freed until he pays Dh2 million in blood money - Dh200,000 for each person who died in the accident.

For a man who was earning Dh1,800 a month before the accident raising such a sum is inconceivable.

"Initially I was thinking insurance would pay but of course they have managed to get out of it so far," he said.

Mr Al Rahman is still battling in court to force the insurance company to pay. He has had little success. "Since 2009 I have been in a battle with them, but each time I go to court I come back with a bigger disappointment. I do not want to go anymore. I have given up hope," he said. "I was so sad for causing the death of so many people but I did not realise I had to pay the price for the rest of my life," he said.

"I know that what happened was destiny but to sit in prison for more than six years for this is very difficult. I did not intend to kill anyone," he added.

Today Mr Al Rahman has surrendered most of the hopes he once entertained. His fiancée is still waiting for him, but he fears he may never again see his mother, who is sick.

"I want to go out, everyday I dream of it. I just want to see my mama, I am scared that I will never be able to see her. I am scared that I will never leave this place."

wissa@thenational.ae