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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

Six charged after Emirati boy drowns in school pool

The staff and school are charged with negligence after the boy, 4, allegedly sneaked into the pool for an unattended swim

A school and six of its staff members have been accused of gross negligence after an Emirati boy drowned in a pool on its premises.

In November, the boy, 4, was found dead in the pool at Australian International School in Sharjah after allegedly sneaking in for an unattended swim.

The staff were charged with negligence and the school, represented by its Emirati owner, 53, was charged with the criminal responsibility of its employees’ actions.

Prosecutors said the school did not have in place the necessary measures to prevent such an incident, such as a barrier or stationed lifeguard.

The five staff, who include a Lebanese swimming instructor, 36, his Italian assistant, 44, an Australian class teacher, 26, a Filipino shadow teacher, 37, and a Filipino bus attendant, 43, were each charged with negligence that caused the child’s death.

On Thursday, the six defendants denied the charge at Sharjah Court of Misdemeanours, before judge Hussain Al Assoufy.

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“We do not have the case file yet but, according to court records, the child went missing at nearly 10am from the changing room after the swimming lesson,” said Awatif Mohammed from Al Rowad Advocates, who are representing the Australian teacher.

Ms Awatif said her client is only responsible for supervising children once the swimming class is over.

“Which she did,” said Ms Awatif. “And she explicitly told her assistant to keep an eye on this specific pupil because he was active and moves around often, then she went to the girl’s changing room to check on the female pupils,” she said.

The victim drowned at nearly 10.15am on November 14 last year.

The boy was found by the shadow teacher whose screams alerted other staff members.

The swimming instructor carried the child to the school clinic and called for an ambulance, which took the child to Al Qasimi Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11am.

Police were alerted to the incident by the hospital.

The child’s father, 37, said he holds the school responsible for his son’s death. His three surviving children attend the same school.

Ms Awatif said a medical report presented to court, which scheduled the next hearing for April 6, attributed the child’s death to a respiratory arrest.

Updated: January 17, 2019 06:09 PM

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