x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

'Suitcase' murderer granted time to secure new lawyer for appeal

An American who murdered a German engineer he met online tells SHarjah Appeal Court prior counsel 'had never talked' with him.

SHARJAH // An American who murdered a German engineer he met online before stuffing his body in a suitcase has been granted more time to appoint a new lawyer for his appeal. Shahid King Bolsen, 38, told the Sharjah Appeal Court yesterday that the lawyer he had been assigned had never discussed the case with him. "I don't know how it works here, sir, but how can a lawyer submit a defence for someone he had never talked to?" he asked the court.

The presiding judge Yaqoub al Naqbi granted Bolsen extra time to find a new lawyer and prepare his defence. The next hearing in the case will be on June 16. The judge also asked Bolsen whether he could afford his own lawyer. After discussions, Bolsen was granted three telephone calls - to his family in the US, to the US Embassy and to the lawyer Nashwa al Qubaisi. Bolsen said he would be comfortable being represented by Ms al Qubaisi, who had previously handled his case.

Ms al Qubaisi said yesterday that she was willing to represent Bolsen, but that the Ministry of Justice needed to approve the change. "It was not our decision to stop representing him in court, it was a ministerial decision," she said. "We just got a call telling us a new lawyer had been appointed for him." Bolsen pleaded guilty to the killing but claimed the death of Martin Steiner, an engineer living in Dubai, was an accident caused when he tried to use chloroform to subdue the unruly man, who had come to his house seeking a sexual encounter with a woman.

The crime was discovered after Bolsen was caught using Steiner's credit cards. He then took police to a spot along a desert motorway where he had stashed Steiner's body, which was stuffed into a suitcase. He was sentenced to death by the Sharjah Criminal Court of First Instance on October 23, 2007. But in February, it was revealed that the Federal Supreme Court had sent the case back to the appeal court because the judges had not signed his death warrant. A unanimous decision is needed to sentence someone to death.

In late February, Bolsen briefly escaped prison, evading guards for an hour before being caught. He has been held in solitary confinement since then, officials say. ykakande@thenational.ae