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Sat 25 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Worker's death in Bahrain may be homicide incident

Witnesses to the death of a 31-year-old Indian construction worker in Bahrain have alleged he was killed by the operator of a piling machine.

Witnesses to the death of a 31-year-old Indian construction worker in Bahrain have alleged he was killed by the operator of a piling machine.

Matthew Sebastian, who was employed by Al Haidariya Heavy Equipment Hiring, was working on a site in Tubli, south of Manama, when a piling machine swung around and crushed him.

Witnesses say the piling machine operator, Mohammed Hafiz Abdul, who was employed by Keller piling contractors and is believed to be from Pakistan, had been arguing with Sebastian moments before the incident.

"He (Sebastian) was using a GCV to remove the sand that was being removed by the piling machine," said an official spokesperson from Al Haidariya Heavy Equipment Hiring, who asked not to be identified. "While he was parked there, the piling machine hit our machine and cracked the brake light.

"Then an argument occurred and they started shouting and the Bahraini supervisors came in to solve the problem," he added. "When the GCV machine operator went to remove the machine, the piling machine operator suddenly swung his machine around and crushed our employee. I think this was a crime, not an accident."

Police arrested Abdul after the incident and now say the case has been forwarded to the public prosecutor. The public prosecutor's office could not confirm that charges have been laid against Abdul.

Sebastian's body was repatriated to his family in India earlier this week; he is survived by his wife of three months, Reena.

He had only been back in Bahrain for two months after a 45-day wedding trip to India, according to Sebastian's roommate in Bahrain.

"Matthew was planning not to come back to Bahrain from his holiday," said his roommate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"He had been here for three and a half years and now that he was newly married, he wanted to stay and work in India.

"Unfortunately, I think he came back for money issues."

The company spokesman described the incident as a tragedy and said insurance money would be sent to the family.

He also said the Nass Company, who was the main contractor on the site, should bear some responsibility for breaching several health and safety regulations.

"The Nass Company was in the wrong because they allowed three machines to work together in one place. When the piling machine is working, no other machine should be near," he said.

"Also, the area should have been separated by barriers but there weren't any protective barriers in place."

"The third issue is that there was no safety officer in site to manage the movement of the machines."

A spokesman from the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) said they would investigate the issue.

The chairman of the Nass Group, Samir Nass, denied any health and safety breach and said the issue was between the subcontractors involved.

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