x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Execution upheld for killer of teen phone harasser

A husband convicted of stabbing to death a teenager who made harassing phone calls to his wife has exhausted court appeals against his death sentence.

ABU DHABI // The Cassation Court yesterday approved the death sentence – the only such case upheld this year in the emirate – for a husband convicted of killing a teenager over harassing telephone calls to the man’s wife.

Al Ain prosecutors said H?B, an Emirati, killed an Emirati teenager after the teenager phoned the defendant’s wife several times. The wife reported the incident to her husband, who decided to kill the teenager, prosecutors said.

On February 27, 2009, H?B followed the teenager in his car and smashed the victim’s car from behind. The victim’s car left the road, the court heard, and after stopping his own vehicle, H?B ran over to the injured teenager and stabbed him to death.

Prosecutors said he followed the teenager with the intent to kill him, which demanded capital punishment.

The case was first tried at the Al Ain Criminal Court of First Instance in April 2009. The justices summoned the victim’s family and asked them if they would accept blood money, forgive the defendant or insist on the death penalty. The family insisted on capital punishment and the court sentenced H?B to death.

The case was automatically appealed, and the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal upheld the sentence. The case was then appealed to the Cassation Court, the highest court for the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

In each court, the family had to tell the court whether they would accept the blood money.

Last week, the family reiterated before the justices at the Cassation Court that they demanded the death penalty. One justice explained to them that forgiveness or blood money were preferable, in accordance with Islam, to the death penalty, but the family insisted.

A court official at the Judicial Department said yesterday the case was the first death penalty case upheld by the Cassation Court this year. The official said there were “two to three” such cases upheld last year.

Murder cases are tried under Sharia, which requires death for premeditated murder if the family of the victim insists on it. A court can reject death, regardless of the family’s decision: if the killer is a minor; if the killer is insane; if the victim was implicated in an offence against the killer; or if the killer is the parent of the victim.

If the killer is Muslim and the victim is not, a Sharia court is required to reject the death penalty.

All inheritors in the victim’s family are required to present a unanimous decision for the death penalty. If one member accepts blood money, a court must rule out the death penalty.

The Cassation Court’s verdict is final and cannot be appealed. The upheld death sentence will be submitted to Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, whose signature is required before the man is executed.

Negotiations with the family to accept blood money can continue and the family will be required by Sharia to attend the execution, where they can still stop the procedure.

hhassan@thenational.ae