x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

10 years jail for footballer who stole Dh1m in 30-second raid on money exchange

French footballer is sentenced to ten years in prison for the armed robbery of a money exchange house.

DUBAI // A former professional footballer who took part in a 30-second armed robbery of a money exchange house that netted Dh1 million worth of cash has been sentenced to ten years in jail.

The Criminal Court found FI, 21, from France, guilty of carrying out the robbery at the Motor City branch of Redha Al Ansari Exchange last September, along with his compatriot KH, 39, who received the same sentence.

MA, 32, an Emirati former teammate of the footballer at a Dubai-based Pro League club, and his brother AA, 39, were both fined Dh6,000 for providing the handgun that was used in the robbery. They had smuggled the gun into the country from Oman.

The Frenchman admitted taking part in the robbery, telling the court he bought the gun for Dh1,500 from his former teammate, and that he targeted the exchange house because its security appeared lax.

He and his friend met the Emirati brothers in Al Quoz and bought the weapon, he said.

“Then we bought sports clothes, gloves and face masks for the heist. Meanwhile [my former teammate] got the car from a bootlegger and parked it at my house,” said the Frenchman.

He recalled the employees at the money exchange hiding under their desks as he carried out the raid. His friend held the gun while he filled a bag with money and the pair fled.

The amount stolen was not noted in prosecution records but police said at the time it was about Dh1 million in different currencies.

The two robbers hid the gun and money inside a washing machine and their clothes in the attic of their home.

Police found the Chevrolet getaway vehicle in patch of desert near Motor City.

Shortly after the heist the Frenchmen were arrested at a hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road. They confessed to the robbery and told police the brothers had sold them the gun.

Both will be deported after serving their jail terms. The court confiscated the gun.

The Emirati brothers were charged with smuggling the gun and 50 bullets into the country. They were also charged with aiding and abetting in the robbery by stealing the Chevrolet and giving it to the Frenchmen.

salamir@thenational.ae