x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Man sentenced to life on drug charges to be retried

Supreme Court says faulty arrest warrant means retrial must be held in lower court.


Abu Dhabi // The Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for a man sentenced to death – and later to life in prison – for smuggling 500g of heroin, ruling the arrest warrant had been issued for his brother, not him.

SM, an Omani, was convicted of smuggling and possessing 500g of heroin on October 19, 2009. The Sharjah Court of First Instance sentenced the man to death.

He appealed the verdict, and the Khor Fakkan Federal Court of Appeals sentenced him to life in prison followed by deportation.

Both the defendant and prosecutors appealed to the Federal Supreme Court.

The defendant said the arrest warrant for him was not valid because it was issued without reliable evidence. He also told the court evidence against him was scant and that he did not know he was carrying drugs when he was arrested in Dibba al Hosn, a city between Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah.

He said the major who carried out the investigation testified he was not the suspect meant police meant to arrest; they had been investigating his brother. He said the lower courts ignored that detail.

Prosecutors argued the defendant knew about the drugs, stored in a small bag, because he had hid them on his thighs after covering them with a plaster. Also, prosecutors said, the man received money when he delivered the drugs, indicating he knew they were drugs.

The Supreme Court accepted the defendant’s arguments in its ruling on January 4, released in court documents today, and sent the case back to Sharjah to be tried under a new panel.