Close-captioned television footage has provided a rare view of an assassination plot. On Monday Dubai police revealed a detailed itinerary of the movements of 11 people accused of killing Mahmoud al Mabrouh on January 20, the day of the murder. From arrival at the airport, changes of disguise, rotating shifts of surveillance and, finally, escape from Al Bustan Rotana hotel, the police paint a compelling scenario of the crime supported by video evidence from across Dubai.
But despite the remarkable results of the investigation and the seeming preponderance of evidence, this case should not be tried in the media or court of public opinion. In legal terms, the suspects - at least one person named has already declared his innocence - have not been found guilty of anything yet. There are also greater ramifications of this case, caught up in regional politics and conflict. The initial assumption that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was behind the murder gains support each day. The victim was a senior member of Hamas. And as the case unfolds, it may reveal information about how both Mossad and Hamas operate.
In the meantime, the police - not to mention the Foreign Ministry - have their work cut out for them. This is the third high-profile murder in Dubai in less than two years: the Lebanese pop singer Suzanne Tamim was killed in her apartment in 2008, and the Chechen military commander Sulim Yamadayev was shot in a car park last March. In the former case, an Egyptian politician and an accomplice have been sentenced to death by an Egyptian court; in the latter, Interpol issued arrest warrants for seven Russians, including a member of the Russian State Duma.
The murders are particularly troubling in Dubai where violent crime is relatively rare. But also noteworthy has been the police response in each case: a rapid investigation that leads to a preponderance of evidence and international arrest warrants. One need only remember the infamous polonium poisoning of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London to see that international skulduggery does not respect borders. But, as Dubai's police chief Lt Gen Dahi Tamim said on Monday, "The UAE will not accept to be transformed into a ground for settling accounts." Dubai's vibrant, cosmopolitan society deserves no less.