x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Accused gunman disputes police video

The passport of a man accused of shooting two police officers during a drugs sting proves he travelled to Oman and Yemen prior to the incident, hears court.

ABU DHABI // A man accused of shooting two police officers during a drugs sting denied today that he was the man shown in video footage of the deal.

It is claimed that the 26-year-old Emirati M?K and the 19-year-old Yemeni F?A allegedly shot two undercover officers who tried to arrest them in Baniyas after allegedly negotiating the purchase of 20kg of hashish from them.

The Yemeni was arrested on the spot but the Emirati was said to have escaped after shooting the two undercover officers and their car. He was caught two hours later.

The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court was shown footage filmed by undercover police officers that they said showed F?A in a car with them as the deal took place.

In the video, the man the prosecution claims is F?A is heard to say: “I have brought the saman”, before handing a package to the undercover agents and receiving a payment in exchange. The word saman translates roughly as “stuff” in English and the prosecution claims the word referred to the drugs.

However, when Chief Justice Sayed Abdul Baseer, the head of the criminal court, instructed the court secretary to record saman as “meaning the drugs”, the lawyer, Tarek Al Serkal, representing MK, objected, saying that the word “drugs” had not been mentioned.

“Drugs are called drugs and tramadol is called tramadol ... saman is a foreign word that is used to refer to things.”

When F?A was asked whether he was the man in the video, he said he was not and that he was outside the country at the time.
“Even though the entire court panel can see the match between the voice and image of the defendant without any difference whatsoever?” asked the chief justice.

Mr Al Serkal also asked for a travel record from the Interior Ministry’s “expensive system” to prove that both men had travelled to Oman and Yemen before the incident took place. The judge said that passport stamps already proved they had been there.

“I’m not saying I don’t trust the passport but so my heart will be convinced,” replied the lawyer, “I’m not asking for it just to stall.”

The lieutenant who was shot during the sting operation said that depending on the border crossing, it was possible that a traveller wouldn’t have been registered in the Interior Ministry’s system.

“He [the lawyer] knows this very well and that is why he keeps humming around that point,” said the lieutenant.

Mr Al Serkal objected to the term “humming”, saying “we are not in an opera ... we ask them to respect us as we respect them.”

The significance of the men’s alleged visits to Yemen and Oman was not made clear in court.

The lawyer representing F?A, Ali Al Abbadi, objected to a forensics report presented to the court claiming marks on MK’s body were only bruises. MK says the marks were from police beatings that left him bleeding. “The undershirt of the defendant has blood on it. We ask to test if this was his blood,” he said.

The judge dismissed this request, instead ordering the forensics doctor who wrote the report to attend the next hearing. Both men accuse police of beating them.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 27.

hdajani@thenational.ae