x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

'Bootleggers' accused of raping and burying alive rival gang

A heavily armed gang of illegal alcohol "bootleggers" kidnapped two members of a rival gang, tortured them, and buried them alive, a court hears.

DUBAI // A heavily armed gang of illegal alcohol "bootleggers" kidnapped two members of a rival gang, tortured them, homosexually assaulted them and buried them alive, a court heard today. The 13 gang members appeared at Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance this morning charged with two counts of kidnap, murder and hiding bodies. Five of the men are also charged with sexual assault, and 10 with consumption of alcohol. All 13 denied the charges, but could face the death penalty if convicted. The court heard how the gang of 12 Indians and one Pakistani allegedly kidnapped Abu Baker Nujila and another man who has not been identified on January 1 last year and assaulted them with metal bars, pipes, sticks, swords, machetes and knives. Five of the men are then alleged to have raped the victims before the whole gang buried them in makeshift, sand covered graves. The defendants were arrested, according to prosecution records, on January 25 after information came to light that the men's bodies had been found buried in Jebel Ali. "Our investigations led us to the first defendant who was found in Jebel Ali with the rest of the gang members," said the investigating officer, Mohammed al Badi. A police team was mobilised, who searched the Jebel Ali Industrial Area until they found the gang, still allegedly wielding swords, machetes and pipes. When interrogated, the men said they were carrying the weapons for self-defence against rival gangs in the area. "They claimed that they were protecting themselves from the other gangs who sold alcohol and used it to scare away people who tried to sell alcohol in their area," said Mr al Badi. The gang comprised three Indian masons, an Indian builder, a Pakistani driver and eight unemployed Indian men, all aged between 21 and 30. Dubai Municipality said today that several stashes of illegal alcohol are discovered in labour camps and industrial areas like Al Quoz and Jebel Ali every year. "This kind of illegal alcohol is seized from lots of places in Dubai, but is more common in areas housing labourers and bachelors," said Obaid Ibrahim, head of the municipality's market management section which is responsible for destroying the illegal stashes. amustafa@thenational.ae