A close friend of a former Arab triathlon champion, who was killed by a driver under the influence of alcohol, has expressed shock at the one-month prison sentence handed down by a Dubai court on Monday.
Fifty-year old Roy Nasr was killed on September 6 when a drunk driver swerved into a group of three cyclists near Dubai’s Safa Park. His fellow cyclists sustained serious injuries.
The Filipino motorist agreed to pay AED200,000 ($54,451) in blood money and apologised to Nasr’s family. He was convicted of drinking alcohol, driving under the influence and damaging others’ property by Dubai Traffic Misdemeanour Court, which also seized his driving licence for three months.
The brief sentence has caused shock among close friends and Dubai’s cycling community. “I’m shocked, honestly. I feel like I can’t get my head around it. I don’t think there’s anyone who would say that’s right. But we live here and we have to respect the law and the judgement,” said Wolfgang Hohmann, a friend of Nasr’s and owner of Wolfi’s Bike Shop on Sheikh Zayed Road. “When you drink and you cause an accident, if it’s on a bike or in a car or anything, and you get one month in jail for that, that’s a strange signal to be sending out.”
Hohmann added that cyclists in the UAE needed greater protection from motorists if such tragic incidents were not to be repeated. “There’s lots of people living in the UAE who do not have the luxury of owning a car, they have to go by bike. There’s a lot of delivery people, and those who travel to work and back by a bicycle, because it’s a sensible way to commute. They need to be protected,” he said.
In the aftermath of the verdict, Dubai residents also took to social networking site Twitter to express their disbelief over the sentence. Hundreds of tribute messages have also been posted on the Facebook page of the TriDubai club he co-founded.