x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Theft of bejewelled Bible brings one-year sentence

Man, accomplice both convicted of robbing the owner of two antique books.

DUBAI // A clerk who stole a case containing two antique books, including a jewel-encrusted gold Bible, was sentenced to one year in prison this morning by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance.

"I confess to my guilt, your honour, and seek Heaven's justice and your mercy," said AK, 25, a Syrian.

Prosecutors in August charged AK with theft and damaging another person's property by forcing open the case. He denied damaging the case.

His compatriot BE, 35, an electrician, despite denying the charge of complicity, was also sentenced to a year in prison.

Court records show MH, a Syrian investor, was looking for someone to buy the books when BE told him on June 4 that he had found an interested party.

"He told me the buyer is paying Dh350,000 for the book, which is worth nearly Dh500,000," MH, 41, told the court.

But BE arranged for a meeting with the alleged buyer at 9.30pm on June 5 in Al Qusais area near the Eppco petrol station.

"BE picked me up in his vehicle and when we arrived at the petrol station," MH said. "I asked him to park next to the building but he took me to a sandy patch behind the station."

MH said a man began walking towards him  as he stepped out of the vehicle.

"I was surprised to see the man approaching me and then he punched me in the face, snatched the case out of my hand and ran away," he said.

AK fell as he ran away with the case, allowing MH to catch up, prosecutors said. The two men wrestled but AK got away.

MH "saw BE lying next to the car and screaming that his back hurt".

BE refused to give MH his mobile phone to call the police, which aroused his suspicions.

MH said he went into the service station and asked the security guard to call police.

When they came, MH told them the case also contained two passports, Dh100,000 in cash and a digital camera.

BE confessed to police and led them to AK, with whom the stolen items were found.

Both men will be deported after serving their prison terms.

salamir@thenational.ae