x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Gun-running accused 'didn't know of 16,000 pistols in shipment'

Six men accused of smuggling thousands of pistols bound for Yemen through Dubai say they had no idea what they were shipping.

ABU DHABI // Lawyers for six men charged with trying to smuggle 16,000 pistols through Dubai to Yemen argued yesterday that their clients did not know the contents of the shipments.

Ten people were charged in the case but only six were arrested in Dubai. The others are not in the country.

In March, Dubai police intercepted what they said was a shipment of guns worth Dh16million (US$4.3m) bound for the town of Sa'dah, in northern Yemen. The shipment came from Turkey. Police described the pistols as designed for personal use, not military weapons. The guns were real, according to the forensics report filed.

The 10 defendants are accused in the State Security Court of possessing and transferring the weapons without an official permit.

One lawyer argued his client, the Egyptian MA, did not have criminal intentions, which according to the law require knowledge of an act and the will to commit it.

The lawyer for AS, who is from Qatar, said his client had no idea what was inside the shipment and that he was asked to receive it by a friend.

A Turkish defendant was tricked into coming to the UAE to clear the cargo after the shipment was seized by the police, his lawyer said.

"He is a cargo-clearance officer and he was asked to come and clear the shipment," his lawyer said.

"If he knew the shipment contained weapons, why would he come to the UAE to clear it?"

The Turkish man does not speak Arabic and there was no translator during questioning at the prosecutor's office, his lawyer said.

Several Turkish and other foreign documents were used as prosecution evidence but were not translated into Arabic, he added.

The rest of the defendants are accused of bringing 16,000 pistols into the country without the proper licences.

The judge had not decided when the next hearing would be.

hdajani@thenational.ae