x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Blackmail attempt came from mistaken identity, court told

Men threatened wrong target in trying to resolve a friend's blackmail issues, court told.

DUBAI // Three people accused of using government records to shake down a man for Dh2,000 were simply trying to get back money one had loaned to a different man with the same name, their lawyer argued yesterday.

The defendants, the Algerian translator NJ, 36; the Emirati Naturalisation and Residency Department official MS, 29; and the Ministry of Interior lieutenant HH, 31, also Emirati, are charged in the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance with issuing threats, blackmail and impersonating a public official. Yesterday was their second hearing.

Advocate Saeed Al Ghailani, who is representing them, told the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance that NJ was involved with a man named KM who promised to marry her.

According to her statement to prosecutors, KM asked her for Dh2,000, which she wired to him on April 25. After KM received the money, he cut off his phone service and disappeared, the court was told.

Prosecutors said NJ, helped by MS and HH, tracked down a person named KM using the Federal Criminal Record System. But, the court was told, it was the wrong man.

The man they contacted named KM testified that NJ sent him a text message telling him that her father was sick and that she needed Dh2,000 to return to Algeria.

"I didn't know her, and then she told me to say hello to my wife by name, which surprised me - how did she know my wife," he said.

He said NJ then sent him an image of his criminal record.

Mr Al Ghailani told the court his clients did not intend any harm KM and said they had made a mistake.

"We have obtained a letter of dismissal of the complaint by the victim and he has dropped the charges against my clients," he said.

According to records, NJ pursued KM via SMS between April 28 and May 20, eventually saying she would set herself on fire in her car in front of his house and frame him for her death.

She also was charged with misusing communications by calling and insulting KM.

Mr Al Ghailani also told the court that charges of impersonation against HH should be dropped because he did not pose as a senior CID officer.

"Your honour, in the report the vicitm obviously was mixed up and said that HH called him from Al Qusais police station, while the defendant stated that he was a Ministry of Interior Ooficial calling from a hotel in Al Qusais," he said.

The court will reconvene on July 31 to issue a verdict.