x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Gambling den killer loses appeal

Life sentence upheld for card player who beat woman to death.

DUBAI// A man found to have murdered a woman for cheating at cards and attacking two other people at the game has been sentenced to life in prison. AO, 41, was found guilty by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance on Tuesday on three charges: beating a woman to death, attempting to kill another man with a kitchen knife, and assaulting a pregnant woman. He was also sentenced to an extra six months for gambling.

The long-running case stems back to a night in Aug 2005, although the first hearing in the case was not until April 2006, with a ruling in July that sentenced the defendant to life in prison. That same year the case was referred to the Dubai Appeal Court, which confirmed the life term on Oct 15. After being referred to the Dubai Cassation Court, as are all capital cases, it was returned to the Court of First Instance for retrial for undisclosed reasons.

On the night of the killing, four people had gathered for the card game in the apartment of EV, the 36-year-old pregnant woman assaulted by AO. She was sentenced to 15 months in jail for running a gambling den, overstaying her visa and possessing and selling pirated pornographic material. When the case went to court in 2006, Dubai Police mounted a series of operations to close illegal gambling dens, the effects of which are still being felt in some parts of the city.

"For a few years these games of things like blackjack and poker had been taking place with small amounts of money changing hands," said a Filipino maid, who lives in Karama and who previously played in the games. "But when this happened it brought a lot of attention on what was going on and apartments in Karama and Satwa were raided. The games have stopped. I know nothing about games happening now.

"They are very popular back home and were just brought here innocently but people have realised it is not worth the trouble." hbathish@thenational.ae