x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Charges imminent in case of missing woman

A British businessman is expected to be charged within days in connection with the disappearance of Kerry Winter.

DUBAI // A British businessman is expected to be charged within days in connection with the disappearance of Kerry Winter, a South African whose disappearance touched off a massive community-led search, Dubai prosecutors said yesterday. Ahmad Eisa al Adhab, a senior public prosecutor, said authorities were waiting for DNA test results expected "any day now" after which MA, 42, would be interviewed and charged.

The DNA results relate to tests carried out on MA's car and home and on Ms Winter's car. Ms Winter is believed to be dead, but her body has not been found. Mr Adhab said it was unlikely MA would be charged with murder if police could not find her body. "We are waiting for the DNA reports," he said. "They should be in any day now and once we have them we will refer the case to court." MA has confessed to police that he beat Ms Winter, 35, about the head with a baseball bat outside her home in Dubai on Aug 20 and later dumped her body.

The Briton told police he did not intend to kill her but she died three hours after the attack. The charge against MA has yet to be decided. It is likely to be wrongful death or manslaughter, although he is in detention on preliminary charges of assault and kidnapping. MA first told police he dumped the body of Ms Winter, an events organiser, in the desert, but later said he threw her remains into the sea.

Despite extensive searches the body has never been found. Ms Winter's brother Kurt, 41, who came to Dubai to hunt for her after her disappearance, said her family would not be satisfied if MA was charged only with assault and would push for the strongest possible charge. "We would not be happy at all if he was only charged with assault. He has confessed to killing her," Mr Winter said. "The bottom line is that we will not be happy if it turns out the killer spends only five or seven years in prison."

He said he would continue the search for his sister's body. Witnesses have given statements to police saying they saw MA beat Ms Winter outside her villa in Al Barsha. They said he then bundled her bleeding body into her own 4x4 vehicle and drove away. MA flew to Britain days after the attack and was arrested when he returned to Dubai International airport on Aug 26. He has been in custody since then.

He initially told police he dropped Ms Winter off at the Arabian Ranches roundabout on Emirates Road but police found no trace of her there. MA later said he dumped the body at sea, close to where he keeps a boat, but did not give a precise location. He is also accused of issuing threats and endangering life after an alleged confrontation with a Lebanese neighbour of Ms Winter who tried to go to her rescue on the night of the attack.

He appeared in court on Sept 22 and denied the charges. chamilton@thenational.ae hbathish@thenational.ae