x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Airport workers jailed for theft of passengers' bags

Three baggage-counter workers at Dubai International Airport were jailed for four years yesterday for stealing passengers' luggage.

DUBAI // Three baggage-counter workers at Dubai International Airport were jailed for four years yesterday for stealing passengers' luggage that contained more than 1,000 mobile phones. The Pakistanis, who worked for Emirates Airline, are also charged with stealing Dh3.8 million (US$1m) worth of gold dirhams, but no judgment has been made.

The men faced two charges of baggage theft. In the first case, FR, 33, JA, 30, and FA, 24, were found guilty of stealing a suitcase containing 550 Nokia mobile phones valued at more than Dh64,000. In the second case, they were found guilty of stealing another suitcase containing 480 phones worth more than Dh196,000. All had denied both charges. According to prosecution records, a 37-year-old Nigerian visitor told prosecutors that she was told to open her suitcase by FR at the baggage counter because it was over the weight limit.

The woman said the defendant then told her he would allow it through anyway. The other victim told prosecutors he had the same experience. Prosecution records said the defendants produced baggage stickers in the name of JA, who placed them on the marked bags. He later took them to Pakistan and sold the contents, splitting the money with the other defendants, the Dubai court heard. A fourth suspect has been charged but is not in custody.

On August 16, the trio appeared in court to face charges of stealing a suitcase containing gold. All denied stealing the suitcase, which belonged to a Libyan man. A police captain told prosecutors in the case involving the gold, however, that FA had confessed. FA said the other two defendants gave him instructions on what to do with the suitcase, the captain said. The officer told prosecutors that FA said on the next day that he went to the airport and collected a boarding pass and ticket and boarded a flight. Before take-off, he said, he received a call from the other defendants, who informed him that the suitcase contained gold belonging to a Libyan national and he, FA, was to give the bag to a person identified only as Muhieb in Pakistan.

According to the police captain, FA also told officers that each man got Dh70,000 for his part in the operation. The defendants are due to appear in court again next month. amustafa@thenational.ae