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Accused drug smuggler claims police torture

Abu Dhabi police found 1,530 more pills 'well hidden' under the gear of the car he used to transport the drug.

Abu Dhabi // A man charged with smuggling more than 10,000 Captagon pills yesterday asked the court to examine his clothes to see whether police tortured him.

AQ, from Saudi Arabia, appeared before Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance, charged with bringing the pills into the country and consuming drugs. Police said he brought 9,000 pills to an undercover officer. After his arrest, police found 1,530 more pills "well hidden" under the gears of the car he used to transport the drug, according to court records. AQ has pleaded not guilty.

He was arrested, according to police, in a sting operation on August 15 after selling the drug to an anti-narcotics officer posing as a customer. But the defendant said he was arrested a day before and that the police story was untrue. AQ said yesterday he was born in the UAE and had visited the country to apply for Emirati citizenship. He said he was arrested after Maghrib prayers, at about 7pm, and not in the morning as police said. He also told the court he confessed to police under duress. He said his clothes were stained with blood because police beat him. The court ordered that his clothes, now in Wathba Prison, be examined.

The officer involved in the sting testified yesterday that the man visited the country for 15 days this year. He said before he arrested the man, he investigated for five days. The officer's investigation showed that each time the man visited the country, he would stay three to four days. The officer said he called the man and asked whether he could buy the drug from him. The man told the undercover officer he would sell 9,000 pills for Dh427,500.

"I bargained with him but he told me another person was willing to buy the pills for a higher price," the police officer told the court. "I told him OK and we agreed on a time and place to meet." The two men met in front of Ghafa hotel, where the defendant stayed, and the delivery took place inside the car, according to police. "After I handed him the money, he asked me if I was interested in more drugs and that he would bring any amount in five days," the police officer testified.

The officer then gave a signal to a patrol nearby and the man was arrested. After his arrest, police said, he confessed to having more Captagon pills hidden in places that were "difficult to reach". The judge adjourned the hearing until October 24 for the defendant to present his defence.

hhassan@thenational.ae

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