x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Judge releases suspect who witnesses fail to ID

The judge said he was concerned that the wrong suspect had been railroaded into court simply to clear the case.

ABU DHABI // A man accused of robbery was released from police custody yesterday after witnesses in the Criminal Court of First Instance failed to conclusively identify him as the perpetrator.

SS, whose age and nationality were not released in court documents, was charged by police investigators of attempting to steal from a money-exchange centre in September along with an accomplice.

They were also accused of throwing acid at the centre's staff in the attempted robbery.

Chief Justice Sayed Abdul Baseer asked the first witness, LN, twice whether police showed him SS separately before including him in a line-up.

"Sometimes police show the witness their main suspect alone at first, telling him, 'This is the man we caught,' and then they line him up with the rest," the judge said to the court translator, who was asking LN the questions.

"Explain to him that he needs to be 100 per cent sure or he will be asked by God regardless of what his religion is."

The centre's staff members were called to the police station about 20 days after the crime to identify a Punjabi suspect, who was not charged.

Then, one month ago, the witnesses were called in again to identify SS.

LN said yesterday he was only 50 per cent certain SS was one of the robbers.

"I said that he is similar in body structure, but I'm not sure of the face features," LN said.

"The incident occurred eight months ago, and I don't remember."

He said he pointed out SS from the line-up because the other suspects looked drastically different.

"One was fat, one was black, one was short," he said.

"I told police the offender was tall."

SS, who was standing in court yesterday, was of average height.

When the second witness, SSh was asked whether SS was the offender, she said no.

"At the police station I said that I'm not sure and I do not know," she said.

The judge ruled SS to be released and the second suspect, meanwhile, remains at large.

A verdict will be announced on May 17.