x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

New death sentence in fatal bootlegging brawl

One gang member's life sentence is upgraded to death penalty; leader's death sentence also affirmed in killings of two men.

DUBAI // The Court of Appeal this morning upheld the death penalty for the leader of an armed alcohol bootlegging gang and increased the sentence for one of his associates from life to death for kidnapping, raping and burying two men alive.

MSJ, the leader, and AS were convicted of the crimes this spring. Two other men, SS and PS, had been sentenced to life in prison but saw their sentences reduced on appeal to 15 years each.

Nine gang members, sentenced to life in prison, saw their sentences upheld.

All 13 had been convicted of consuming alcohol, while the leader faced charges of possessing alcohol to provide others.

The 12 Indians and one Pakistani kidnapped Abu Baker Nujila and another man, who has not been identified, and assaulted them with metal bars, pipes, sticks, swords, machetes and knives on January 1, 2009.

They all raped the victims before burying them in sand-covered graves, prosecutors said.

The men were arrested on January 25, 2009, after the bodies were found.

Prosecutors said MSJ, 24, coerced the rest of the gang into an attack on their rivals.

Although he denied the charges, MSJ told investigators that cutthroat competition for bootlegging sales in the area left his gang no choice but to take up arms to protect its "turf".

He admitted to sending people to "warn off" competition from straying into his territory several times. MSJ, a mason, told arresting officers that the two victims had persisted in selling alcohol in his area, and that his gang had wanted to "teach them a lesson that they will never forget".

Prosecution documents quote him as saying: "In alcohol sales, everything happens."

The gang forced the victims into a minivan, drove them to an isolated area in Jebel Ali and assaulted them.

salamir@thenational.ae