x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Judge loses temper over no-show defendants

Appeals judge vows in future he won't take any excuses from defendants not showing up in court.

ABU DHABI // An Appeals Court judge lost his temper with absentee defendants last week, vowing to no longer tolerate no shows in his court after a prisoner accused of kidnap and robbery refused to be disturbed from his cell.

Dr Khairi Kabbash, the head of Abu Dhabi's Appeals Court number three, has often complained to prison guards about defendants who fail to show up for their hearings.

On Thursday, one of five Indian men accused of kidnap, robbery, bootlegging and immigration offences failed to appear for his trial, instead passing the court a note through his prison guards apologising for his absence. His co-defendants were in court.

"Call the prison now and tell them we won't close today's hearing until he comes to court," said Dr Kabbash. "Let him come in a special car accompanied by the manager of the prison," he told the guards and the court's secretary.

About 45 minutes later, a prison guard appeared and informed the judge the inmate refused to be disturbed.

"This is not how justice is served!" boomed the judge. "He appeals his case and gets the court, the judges, the secretary and yourself, involved with his case while he is sleeping on his bed in prison.

"We will not take this anymore, you should have forced him," he added to the guard.

The guard replied that he could not force the prisoner to appear.

But Dr Khairi insisted: "He is an inmate you can force him to come to court."

The guard said if he did so the inmate could make a complaint against him.

"Let him complain against me too," replied Dr Kabbash, "there is no law that entitles him to appeal and not show up".

"He is accused of kidnap and robbery and the public prosecution appealed against [his sentence] as well. It's not like he has a cheque case and he is trying to play with time," added the chief justice.

The judge decided that the court would no longer accept notes excusing absentee defendants. He said that in future, if a defendant decided not to show up he would have to sign a letter giving up his right to appeal. This letter would have to be signed and stamped by the prison manager.

The prisoner's case was adjourned until May 13.

hdajani@thenational.ae