x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Death row killer was 'being blackmailed by victim'

Two Indian men sentenced to death for slitting the throat of an Emirates Airline executive have told an appeals court that the victim's death was an accident.

DUBAI // Two Indian men sentenced to death for slitting the throat of an Emirates Airline executive two years ago have told an appeals court that the victim's death was an accident. SD, 31, and TN, 23, were convicted in January of the premeditated murder of Younis Akbar. They told the Dubai Court of Appeals that Mr Akbar's death was a result of a scuffle that took place after he blackmailed SD. Mr Akbar, a Pakistani, was found dead in his car outside Terminal 2 of Dubai International Airport in November 2008.

The court heard that SD had cut his throat with a butcher's knife while TN held his hands to prevent his escape. SD said he did not intend to kill the victim, but when he was threatened and forced into a meeting with Mr Akbar, he took a knife along. Prosecution records indicated that the Emirates executive had been blackmailing SD because Mr Akbar knew he had swindled money from the company that employed him. Mr Akbar, who had repeatedly extorted him, also wanted to have sexual relations with his wife, the defendant told prosecutors.

In closing arguments, the defence lawyer, Harun Tahlak, told the court that the murder charge should be reduced to assault leading to death. He asked that call records showing the victim continually called the defendants be admitted into evidence to demonstrate a lack of premeditation. Mr Tahlak also requested the court disallow any evidence relating to the butcher's knife because of a lack of forensic results proving the defendants used it. He also said the victim had been investigated by his employer and asked that the court review the results of that inquiry to establish his ethical behaviour and show his low level of morality.

The Court of Appeals will rule on May 18. If it upholds the lower court verdict, the case will proceed to the Dubai Court of Cassation, the emirate's highest court of appeal, which is empowered to review the procedures of the lower courts but cannot review evidence presented there. @Email:amustafa@thenational.ae