x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Man acquitted 11 years after Dubai murder

A man wrongly accused of having killed a woman in a bungled burglary at her home is expected to be freed within the next few days.

DUBAI // A man sentenced to death last month for the murder of an Emirati woman in her home 11 years ago was acquitted by the Appeals Court yesterday.

Judges ruled that Dubai police had arrested him outside their jurisdiction, in Sharjah, and that there was insufficient evidence to convict him.

The court noted that A?A, 50, who holds a Comoros Islands passport, had always insisted on his innocence, and had said his only confession during police investigations was obtained by torture.

He told the Appeals Court that he was hung on a wall by police officers who inserted chilli peppers into his anus.

A?A was found guilty on February 10 of murdering Mariam Mohammed Ibrahim, 59, during a burglary gone wrong.

The victim was found dead on the floor in the living room of her home in Al Satwa on September 5, 2002, by a cousin who had visited to check on her after becoming concerned when she failed to answer her telephone.

Forensics officers determined that the killing took place at about 1.30pm on September 4.

Prosecutors claimed that A?A knew the woman and targeted her because she often helped the poor, and he therefore thought she was wealthy.

They said he put the house under surveillance while sitting in his rented Toyota Corolla drinking beer until he was sure she was home alone. He broke in, struggled violently with the woman when she caught him in the living room, and killed her before unsuccessfully trying to break open her safe, prosecutors said.

Investigators found one fingerprint on the safe. At the time, there was no match in police records, but nearly 10 years later police traced the print to A?A, and arrested him.

The officers who made the arrest said A?A initially denied the murder, but later confessed.

“He said that since the crime he would only pass through Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi, but never enter Dubai,” one of the officers said.

In its judgment yesterday, the Appeals Court noted that in A?A’s confession he had said that the killing had taken place at about 8pm, which did not match the forensic findings. The court also ruled that the fingerprint was insufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

A?A will remain in custody while the paperwork for his release is processed, but is expected to be a free man in the next few days.

salamir@thenational.ae