x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Theft case based on superstition dropped

Man had been accused of theft after being forced to sign a confession in accordance with a Bangladeshi superstition.

ABU DHABI // A man was acquitted of theft this morning because the only evidence against him was based on an ancient superstition.

HM, from Bangladesh, was accused of stealing money that went missing from a roommate in a labour camp.

His roommates suggested that they discover the thief using an old Bangladeshi method: chewing dry rice. The belief is that when a thief chews dry rice, his gums will bleed. So about 10 men who were sharing accommodation chewed the rice.

HM was the only one whose gums bled, so he was forced to sign a confession, according to court documents. But he argued in court today that he had an artificial tooth that caused his gums to bleed easily, and showed it to the judge.

"Put it back on," the judge quickly told him.

Because there was no real evidence against him, the judge then dismissed the case.

Judicial superstitions are common throughout the Middle East and Asia. Bedouin tribes, for instance, would check to see whether someone was a thief by burning a piece of metal and placing it on the tongue of the suspect. If it stuck to the tongue, the person was considered guilty because his saliva had gone dry.

hdajani@thenational.ae