x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Two on death row for teenage murder

The men, and two others, were convicted of killing a man on a Sharjah beach in November 2003 when they were both 17-year-olds.

ABU DHABI // Two men are on death row in Sharjah for a 2003 murder they committed as 17-year-olds. According to Federal Supreme Court documents released yesterday, the pair were tried as adults after a court ruled that their facial hair indicated they were mature enough to take responsibility for their crimes.

They and two others were convicted of killing a man on a Sharjah beach in November 2003. KA, a woman, had lured her Emirati husband, FM, to the beach late at night and told the other three of their location. FF, an Emirati, and AH, a Bangladeshi, attacked him first and prevented him from moving while WM, an Emirati, stabbed him with a knife. The four were sentenced to death by the Sharjah Criminal Court in April 2004. They appealed several times, most recently in May 2008, but without success, and the Federal Supreme Court confirmed the sentences on January 19 this year. At the time of the murder, WM and AH were 17-years-old; FF was 19 and the woman KA was 21.

According to Shariah, a beard or moustache is regarded as evidence of maturity. The court ruled that because WM and AH were both old enough to shave their facial hair, they were criminally responsible for their actions. The defendants claimed they did not intend to kill the man but rather to "discipline him and force him to divorce his wife". The defendants had been arrested after the wife admitted her involvement in the murder to the police.

In their testimony they said they carried the knife as a precaution. On appeal, the defendants requested that the charges be reduced because of lack of evidence of premeditation. The court dismissed that argument and cited Islamic jurists who argued that carrying a knife was sufficient to prove intent. According to the federal penal code, death sentences automatically go to appeal. With the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi having rejected the final appeal in January, federal prosecutors will now submit an execution order to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, whose signature is required before the four are executed.

A pardon can be granted by a Ruler or through negotiations with the victim's family, who may choose to accept blood money, or diyyah. If the family accept this, they waive their rights to seek the death penalty. In this case, the family refused to accept blood money and insisted on the death penalty. hhassan@thenational.ae myoussef@thenational.ae