ABU DHABI // A Bangladeshi man attempted to enter the country disguised as a woman in a niqab, the State Security Court was told yesterday.
Federal prosecutors said the man, MO, attempted to enter the country from Oman through the Mazyad crossing in a car on July 13.
The court ruled that drivers are responsible for ensuring every passenger in their car carries valid travel documents, or report them to authorities. The court also ruled a car would be confiscated, even if it was not the driver's car, if a defendant is guilty of driving passengers without valid documents.
The Bangladeshi man was sitting in the front seat next to the driver. The driver, KH, from Oman, told police the person in an abaya was his wife and handed a female police officer his wife's passport. The policewoman insisted the passenger take off the niqab.
The two men were arrested after the ruse was discovered, according to court documents released yesterday.
The driver told police he did not know the passenger was a man and that he was asked by a friend to take the passenger to Abu Dhabi. He said his friend was waiting for him at a petrol station in the UAE and would hand him payment. He said he had agreed to take the passenger because he had debts.
He also told the police he always had his wife's abaya and passport in the car and that he had passed through all Omani checkpoints without any problem.
The man confessed to prosecutors but said the passenger took the abaya from the back seat of the car and put it on.
Amna Syed Ali, KH's lawyer, asked the court to acquit her client or grant him leniency if the court found him guilty.
The court documents did not state the sentence handed to the passenger. A court official could not confirm what the verdict was, saying the panel had not signed the decision yet.
But Chief Justice Shehab al Hammadi wrote that his panel ordered the car confiscated, although it was not the driver's.
"[According to the law], the car should be confiscated even though it was not registered under the defendant's name," Chief Justice al Hammadi wrote.
He said the court granted leniency for the driver.