x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Time is up, fraud convict pleads

Man jailed for three years in 2003 asks court to set him free but he will have to wait more till the verdict is announced on September 21.

DUBAI // A former Dubai Customs inspector who has spent more than seven years in prison despite having been sentenced to only three pleaded with a judge to release him yesterday. IS, from Syria, was convicted in 2003 of embezzling public funds. He was ordered to repay Dh637,980 and fined the same amount, in addition to being jailed for three years.

Yesterday IS asked the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance to set him free. Judge El Saeed Bargouth will issue his verdict on September 21. IS is the second prisoner this year to file a protest against Dubai's Public Prosecutors office over an extended stay in prison. On May 31 the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance ordered the release of a former Central Bank assistant treasurer who had been in jail four years longer than his sentence.

Ibrahim al Tunaiji, a 39-year-old Emirati father of four, had been awaiting release since 2006 after being convicted in 2003 of embezzling Dh3.1 million. The court ordered his immediate release according to Article 309 of the Penal Procedures Code. This states that anyone convicted in financial cases and ordered to repay the sum stolen plus penalties, if they are unable to pay the full amount and all other options have been exhausted, may be imprisoned for one day for every Dh100 still owed, up to a maximum of six months.

Federal Penal Procedures law states that, once released, the offender is expected to repay the remainder of the penalty owed to the public prosecution in monthly instalments within 24 months. Court documents did not reveal how much IS has repaid. A source at Dubai Police Punitive and Correctional Facilities establishment said 13 other prisoners were awaiting completion of sentences involving financial crimes. Three were sentenced by the Criminal Court, and the other 10 by the Court of Misdemeanours.