x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Golden bible thief throws himself on court's mercy

A man accused of stealing a golden book winds up back in court.

DUBAI // A clerk has confessed to stealing a diplomatic case containing two antique books, one of which was a jewel-encrusted golden bible, the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance has heard.

"I confess to my guilt, your honour, and seek Heaven's justice and your mercy," said AK, 25, a Syrian.

Prosecutors on Thursday charged AK with theft and damaging another person's property by forcing open the case. He denied damaging the case.

His compatriot BE, 35, an electrician, denied the charge of complicity.

Court records show MH, a Syrian investor, was looking for someone to buy the books when BE told him on June 4 that he had found an interested party.

"He told me the buyer is paying Dh350,000 for the book, which is worth nearly Dh500,000," MH, 41, told the court.

BE arranged for a meeting with the alleged buyer at 9.30pm on June 5 in Al Qusais area near the Eppco petrol station.

"[BE] picked me up in his vehicle and when we arrived at the petrol station," MH said. "I asked him to park next to the building but he took me to a sandy patch behind the station."

MH said a man began walking towards him as he stepped out of the vehicle. "I was surprised to see the man approaching me and then he punched me in the face, snatched the case out of my hand and ran away," he said.

AK fell as he ran away with the case, allowing MH to catch up, prosecutors said. The two men wrestled but AK got away.

MH "saw BE lying next to the car and screaming that his back hurt".

BE refused to give MH his mobile phone to call the police, which aroused his suspicions.

MH said he went into the service station and asked the security guard to call police.

When they came, MH told them the case also contained two passports, Dh100,000 in cash and a digital camera.

BE confessed to police and led them to AK, with whom the stolen items were found.

In a statement released at the start of June, Lt Col Salim Al Rumaithy, the deputy director of CID at Dubai Police, said MH had inflated the value of the two stolen antique books so investigators would pay more attention to the case.

Lt Col Al Rumaithy said MH originally reported the theft of a bag containing the two books worth more than Dh1.8 million and Dh100,000 in cash.

A verdict is expected on September 15.

salamir@thenational.ae