x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

'I'm schizophrenic,' says firestarter

Man appeals his sentence for setting fire to his prison cell, telling court he suffers from schizophrenia.

DUBAI // A man appealing a six-month prison sentence for starting a fire in his prison cell today told a court he suffered from schizophrenia.

"I am sick in my head," ME, a 31-year-old Emirati, told the judge at the Dubai Criminal Court, before uttering a number of expletives and beginning to shout.

He said he was "not himself" when he lit the fire and provided a medical note to prove he was receiving treatment. He is appealing against his jail term and Dh1,650 fine at the criminal court, rather than the appeals court as he was sentenced in absentia.

The man was being held at Al Qusais Police Station on drug charges when he used a cigarette lighter and pieces of paper to start a fire in his cell on October 15, 2010. The flames spread to his clothes but policemen rescued him after hearing the fire alarm and noticing heavy smoke coming from his cell.

AA, 28-year-old corporal, said he hosed the man down with a fire extinguisher and that he was taken to Rashid Hospital for treatment.

The corporal told prosecutors that when he asked the prisoner why he started the fire, he said that he wished to end his life.

"God forgive you, why did you save me," the prisoner was reported to have said.

Prosecutors charged the man with attempted suicide, posing a danger to the lives of policemen and other detainees and damaging public property.

The next hearing will be on May 1.

salamir@thenational.ae