x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Lawyer in Thaksin fraud case collapses in Dubai courtroom

A lawyer presenting defence arguments in a multi-million dirham fraud case involving the former prime minister of Thailand collapsed and died less than an hour later.

DUBAI // A lawyer presenting defence arguments in a multi-million dirham fraud case involving the former prime minister of Thailand collapsed and died less than an hour later.

The Egyptian lawyer in his 50s, was addressing the Cassation Court when he held his chest before collapsing without saying a word.

"He was speaking normally but suddenly he held his chest and was pointing at the chair that he wanted to sit but fell before he could take a seat," recalled a policeman who was in the courtroom.

"We called an ambulance which came and rushed the man to hospital but we knew he died on the way."

Medics confirmed the lawyer died of a heart attack.

He was appealing a three-year jail term issued against a prominent Emirati lawyer, a partner and manager of a well-known law firm in Dubai, on charges of breach of trust.

His client was accused of embezzling millions of dollars from Thaksin Shinawatra, former prime minister of Thailand, through an escrow account the law firm controlled in 2008.

Court records said the embezzlement happened in 2009, between September 18 and October 27.

The 45-year-old Emirati defendant, the legal representative of Mr Thaksin in a deal to sell the Manchester City football team to Abu Dhabi, was accused of embezzling £60 million (Dhs341m) of the £150m deposited into an escrow account.

Prosecutors also accused his client of embezzling £15m after Mr Thaksin asked the defendant to receive a money transfer on his behalf and deposit it in a Montenegrin bank in his name.

However, the Cassation Court upheld the verdict delivered by the lower courts.

salamir@thenational.ae