Abu Dhabi court delivers final verdict on school bus death case

Three-year old Nizaha Ala’a suffocated to death after she fell asleep and remained locked inside a school bus in October 2014

The Abu Dhabi Court of Cassation has ruled that the family of the deceased schoolgirl Nizaha Ala’a will receive Dhs 100,000 as blood money.

The court ordered the blood money to be paid by the school, its principal, bus driver and supervisor.

Three-year old Nizaha suffocated to death after she fell asleep and remained locked inside a school bus in October 2014.

Following her death, the Abu Dhabi Misdemeanour Court convicted all the defendants including the driver, supervisor and another staff member for their negligence and ordered them to pay Dhs 200, 000 as blood money. The school bus driver and supervisor were also sentenced to three years in jail while the school administrator was given a suspended three-year sentence and the bus company owner was sentenced to six months and fined Dhs 500,000.

The court also ordered the closure of Al Worood Academy Private School where the child was enrolled.

But a subsequent ruling by the Appeals Court overturned the initial sentences and halved the amount to be paid in blood money to the victim’s family.

The final verdict by the Cassation Court also upheld the Appeals Court’s previous ruling and has maintained that the jail terms and the compensation will remain unchanged.

The schoolgirl’s death sparked a wider debate on safety measures to be observed while transporting children. Many schools in the United Arab Emirates also reviewed their policies post the incident to ensure that such cases do not recur.

The incident also prompted the School Transport Executive Committee in Abu Dhabi to introduce a series of regulatory measures to improve the safety of school transport system. Some of the measures included the installation of seat belts in school buses and extensive training for bus drivers and supervisors.