x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Schizophrenic prisonor set fire to his cell, Dubai court told

Prisoner tells court the only thing he's gained from jail is a bunch of tattoos - then strips off his shirt to prove it.

DUBAI // A prisoner told a court today that the only things he had gained since being in jail were the tattoos on his back - then stripped off his shirt to back up his point.

"I have been in prison for over three years now, and do you know what I gained from being in prison," ME, 32, an Emirati, asked the panel of judges in the Criminal Court. He then took off his shirt and did a twirl, pointing to his tattoos. "This is how I benefitted from being in jail."

ME, who told the court he suffered from schizophrenia and had been given electric shock treatment, was in court to appeal a six-month sentence he received for setting fire to his cell.

The court ordered the guards to take the prisoner away, but he resisted and had to be dragged into the detention room as he screamed at the guards: "You are all dogs."

On October 15, 2010, the man, who was in prison on drug charges, used paper and a lighter to start a fire in his cell. He also set fire to himself. A policeman noticed heavy smoke coming from his cell and rushed to rescue him.

"He told me he wished to die and said to me: 'god forgive you, why did you save me?'" said the policeman.

Prosecutors charged him with attempted suicide, posing danger to the lives of policemen and other detainees, and damaging public property.

"I am sick in my head," the prisoner told the court in 2010, before using inappropriate vocabulary to address the judge.

He was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail and fined Dh1,650. He appealed against the verdict and appeared before a new panel of judges this year.

The court is expected to issue its new verdict on March 31.

salamir@thenational.ae