x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Bootleg killers lose prison appeals

The Court of Appeal upholds prison time for two bootleggers who killed a rival.

DUBAI // Two of the gang who beat to death a rival bootlegger lost their appeal against their life sentences this week.

Another member of the gang, a Pakistani, had his 10-year sentence upheld by the Court of Appeal and eight Indian men got 15 years each for their roles in the brutal killing more than two years ago.

The men were convicted of the premeditated murder and concealment of the body of a man identified only as "Number 36" in court records. They were also convicted of illegal possession of alcohol for trade and consumption of alcohol.

The gang members attacked the man behind the Samsung offices in Jebel Ali on January 1, 2009. They beat him to death with swords, machetes, pipes and wooden blocks, then strangled him with a piece of cloth.

After he died, they partially buried his body where it lay, prosecutors said.

The gang, made up of Indian masons and labourers and a Pakistani driver, all denied the murder charges at the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance last year. They also denied the possession of alcohol charge but pleaded guilty to consuming alcohol.

An investigating officer told prosecutors that in early 2009, information came to them that the bodies of two men were buried in Jebel Ali behind Ibn Battuta Mall.

A police team scoured Jebel Ali Industrial Area until they found the killers, who were carrying swords, machetes and pipes.

The men told police they were carrying the weapons for self-defence against gangs in the area.

"They claimed that they were protecting themselves from other gangs who sold alcohol, and only used them [the weapons] to scare away people who tried to sell alcohol in their area," the officer testified.

The Indian mason, MS, 24, one of the two sentenced to life, was accused of being the ringleader and coercing the rest of the gang into committing the murder.

The killers told interrogators that they warned the victim numerous times against selling in their area.

They said they decided to teach him a lesson and tracked him down to an area where the gang had concealed the weapons.

The assault was described as haphazard, with gang members just trying to land a blow on the victim until he laid still.

Officers said SS, 23, claimed that when the victim stopped moving, gang members picked him up and dropped him to see whether he was still alive. After he was confirmed to be dead they buried him and fled in a bus driven by the Pakistani.

salamir@thenational.ae