x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Inmates plotted jail blaze, prosecutors say

Eight men hatched a scheme to set fire to detention block after their demands went unmet, court told.

DUBAI // Eight inmates plotted to set fire to the detention centre in Al Rafaa police station, a court was told this morning.

Seven denied the charges before the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance, while while the eighth, SJ, failed to show up in court.

DS, 32; SJ, 41; KM, 25; RA, 20; and AS, 35, all unemployed Emiratis; FM, 39, Iranian; FS, 20, Pakistani; and HL, 29, from Sri Lanka, were charged with plotting as a gang to burn the detention centre, posing risk to the lives of inmates and police, as well as damaging public property worth Dh11,096.

On August 18, 2010, the men covered the surveillance cameras with paper and tooth paste before starting a fire using a battery and a wire, prosecutors say.

AP, a corporal, testified that a day before the incident, the men were asking for cigarettes and an extension of their phone call time to 2am. He said they started a hunger strike to have their demands met and the next day they set the fire.

A Pakistani detainee said he noticed DS was instructing a group of others to cover cameras while KM held the battery and wire, waiting to start the fire.

"They started the fire using a newspaper, then spread the fire to the bedsheets and blankets," the Pakistani witness said.

Another detainee, AF, testified that about 11pm on the day of the incident DS asked him and other detainees to go outside. The fire began about 30 seconds after he did so, he said.

"I saw policemen and firefighters rushing inside the detention," he said.

The next hearing was scheduled for September 12.

salamir@thenational.ae