x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Defendant threatened at trial

Police officers at Dubai Criminal Court are called to form a wall to protect a defendant from the family of the man he is accused of killing.

DUBAI // Police officers at Dubai Criminal Court were called to form a wall yesterday to protect a defendant from the family of the man he is accused of killing. Initially AH, a 52-year-old Egyptian, refused to enter the courtroom, afraid he would be assaulted by relatives of Hani el Hanafi, who was killed last month. He was eventually persuaded to enter as officers positioned themselves between him and the family.

"[AH] didn't just kill my brother, he killed my whole family," said Hisham el Hanafi, one of Mr el Hanafi's brothers. "Our brother was our main source of income. Since the murder, I have not been able to work and neither has my brother Hossam. "We have not been able to sleep properly and travelling back and forth from Kuwait to Dubai to attend the hearings is stretching our finances thin." AH was making his second court appearance. On July 21, he was charged with bludgeoning Mr el Hanafi to death with a sharp, heavy object, then stealing his credit card.

According to the public prosecutor's report, he then went on a shopping spree and to the cinema using the credit card to buy Dh11,946 (US$3,300) worth of gold and a Dh1,375 mobile phone. He was arrested four days after Mr el Hanafi was killed. In court yesterday, the presiding judge asked AH if he had hired an lawyer. AH said he could not afford one, so a public defence lawyer was assigned and proceedings were adjourned until September 1.

As AH was led away, brothers Hisham and Hossam el Hanafi walked out of the courtroom, but when the judge ordered him back into the room, the brothers made eye contact, then made sweeping motions across their necks indicating that AH would die. Last month, the brothers attempted to attack AH in court but were subdued by police. ealghalib@thenational.ae