x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Al Ain killer sentenced to death was ‘mentally ill’

A psychiatrist told the court that he examined the defendant and he found him to be suffering from schizophrenia and psychosis.

ABU DHABI // One of three Emirati brothers sentenced to death for killing two Omanis in a family feud was mentally ill at the time of the murders, a psychiatrist told the Appeals Court on Tuesday.

The psychiatrist said that he examined H T after he was referred from Al Wathba Prison and found him to be suffering from schizophrenia and psychosis.

He added that patients suffering psychological illnesses were aware of their actions but mentally ill people were not.

The brothers were convicted in May last year of shooting Omanis S M, 31, and S O, 43, in revenge for the death of their 19-year-old brother, who was killed in Oman by the brother of one of the victims.

The teenager was tricked into driving to Oman by two men who introduced him to a healer, who gave him a drink they claimed had restorative powers.

He died after drinking it and the two men, aged 35 and 58, stole and sold his car.

The three brothers killed the Omanis on May 4, 2012, after a car chase. The car the Omanis were in crashed in Al Jimmi, Al Ain, after which the Emiratis shot them dead.

“A mentally ill person should be under consistent medical treatment and should take his medicines continuously,” the psychiatrist said.

The Emirati’s lawyer, Tarek Al Serkal, asked if a mentally ill patient could lose awareness of time, place and lack consciousness.

The expert said that if a patient was not being treated with medication then they could suffer illusions, hallucinations, lose control of their actions and their ability to drive safely.

The public prosecutor interrupted to ask the doctor about H T’s ability to identify the victims’ car during questioning: “In that case, the defendant is unaware of time and place?”

The expert replied: “In that case, the reply shows he was aware at the time.”

Mr Al Serkal reminded the court of the brothers’ claims that they were beaten by police and pressured during questioning. He asked: “Would mental pressure result in illusions that could affect the mind of the patient?”

The expert said that if the patient was not taking his medication, then it could.

Prosecutors then challenged the expert, saying that a committee of six doctors from Sheikh Khalifa Medical City found that H T was not suffering from any mental illness.

The expert responded: “I have been a psychiatrist for 31 years and I found him to be suffering it.”

He added that he did not see the results of other tests conducted on the patient; he came to his own diagnosis.

The psychiatrist said he checked the man’s medical records and found that he was being prescribed medication for psychosis and schizophrenia while in prison.

Prosecutors then asked if someone with such a mental illness could function normally while taking medication.

“He gets better when he is under treatment but does not become a normal person,” the expert said.

The court then asked if it were possible for a mentally ill person who was unaware of his actions to confess under pressure – “can he be forced morally if he is unaware?”

The expert said probably not.

The case was adjourned until February 25.

hdajani@thenational.ae