x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Prisoner blames dead cellmate for starting Dubai police station fire, court hears

A prisoner accused of starting a fire in Al Qusais Police Station has told a court a dead man was to blame.

DUBAI // A prisoner accused of starting a fire in Al Qusais Police Station has told a court a dead man was to blame.

SA, 27, who holds a Comoros Islands passport, told the Criminal Court that AH, an Emirati, was sharing a cell with him in July 2011 and that he was the one who set fire to a mattress.

Prosecutors charged both men with starting the fire, damaging property and risking the lives of others. The Emirati has since died.

Policeman HA, 26, testified that at about 3.30am on July 18, 2011, he saw smoke coming out of the cell and rushed in to find the fire had consumed the mattress.

He said none of the detainees would tell him who started the fire.

"I checked the camera footage and saw the Emirati prisoner and a masked man carrying the mattress. Seconds later the fire started, but I didn't see them starting it," he said.

The officer said some detainees were rushed to the prison's clinic after being overcome by the smoke.

A verdict was scheduled for July 1.

salamir@thenational.ae