x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

British surgeon acquitted of obscene gesture

A British surgeon accused of making an obscene gesture at an Emirati officer has been acquitted, despite refusing to return from the UK for trial.

DUBAI // A British surgeon charged with raising his middle finger at an immigration officer was acquitted yesterday - despite refusing to return from the UK for trial.

Joseph William Nunoo Mensah, 41, has not appeared at any of his court hearings after being granted bail and returning to England.

His attorneys had presented a long letter on his behalf explaining his decision, which centred on not wishing to be caught up in an "unfair and unpredictable ordeal".

No detailed explanation was given for the acquittal but court sources said there was a lack of concrete evidence - an issue Mr Mensah had raised in his letter.

He wrote: "To date we have resisted a counter legal action against the accuser as it serves no benefit to anyone, prolongs this unfortunate matter and, finally, just like my accuser, we have no strong independent evidence to actually prove any of our claims."

In June, his lawyer had asked the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours for a long adjournment.

He said Mr Mensah had left the country on urgent business but would be back for the next hearing.

The letter explained that a judge had allowed him to have his passport back in return for Dh2,000 and the passport of an unnamed person. The fate of that person and their passport was not discussed yesterday.

Prosecutors had charged Mr Mensah, a consultant colorectal surgeon at King's College Hospital, London, with committing a public indecent act. He denied the charges during prosecution and police investigations.

The dispute began on the evening of April 25, when Mr Mensah was driving his black Mitsubishi Pajero on the Jebel Ali-Lihbab Road with his wife and their son as passengers. A white Toyota Corolla pulled up close behind and flashed its lights.

"I thought he wanted me to give way but I couldn't as there was only one lane," Mr Mensah said.

The road was narrowed because of construction. When the road opened up, as Mr Mensah was driving at 60 kph, the driver of the Corolla pulled up next to him and rolled down his window.

Mr Mensah told prosecutors he responded by raising both hands in a gesture of confusion, as he did not know what the other driver wanted from him.

His account was at odds with that of SS, 28, a first sergeant at the General Department of Naturalisation and Residency, who said he was with his child in the car when he noticed that Mr Mensah was driving at night without his lights on.

"I flashed at him twice to alert him," he said. "When I opened the window, I was surprised to see him raising his middle finger at me."

salamir@thenational.ae