After a Belgian schoolboy drowned in a rooftop swimming pool in Dubai, two British sports coaches are on trial, potentially facing three years in prison for the death.
Five-year-old Benjamin Van Din Bergi fell into the pool last July during preparations for a swimming class at Dubai's Regents International School.
Michael Smith, 31 and Steven Porter, 23, are two of the five people on trial in the United Arab Emirates, accused of mistakenly causing Benjamin's death.
Prosecutors claim the instructors are liable for the boy’s death after they allowed him to swim in a pool for adults in “the presence of coaches who do not hold lifeguard permits,” according to Gulf News.
However, one of the accused, Smith, is believed to not have been present at the pool when the child drowned.
“Michael and the others are not green when it comes to knowing how things work in Dubai with the law and how tough it can be,” an unnamed source told British tabloid the Mirror. “We are all desperately hoping he will be acquitted.”
Mark Porter, another suspect, reportedly tried to save Benjamin, who was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.
The accused pleaded not guilty in March, according to Gulf News, when they appeared before the Dubai Misdemeanors Court.
If convicted, each face up to a year in prison and, according to the country’s Sharia law, will have to pay around $54,500 each to the boy’s family as “blood money.”
“Blood money is seen as a means of protecting the rights of the victim’s family. It is crucial to prove who was responsible and how the accident occurred,” a Dubai-based legal expert Tareq Al Serkal told The Sun.
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