x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Judge bars Winter family lawyer from attending appeal

The Court of Appeals denies a request by the lawyer for the family of Kerry Winter to present their arguments at the defendant's new trial.

Kerry Winter has been missing since 2008.
Kerry Winter has been missing since 2008.

DUBAI // The Court of Appeals has denied a request by the lawyer for the family of Kerry Winter, the South African woman who went missing in 2008, to present their arguments at the defendant's new trial. Judge Eisa al Sharief's order came as Winter's former boyfriend, MA, again pleaded not guilty to the murder. The 42-year-old British operations manager was found guilty of premeditated murder by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance on June 7 and sentenced to 15 years in jail.

When asked if he had committed the murder, MA yesterday told Judge al Sharief, the chief justice of the Dubai Appeals Court: "No your honour, absolutely not". Winter, who was 36 when she disappeared, was last seen on August 20, 2008 outside her villa in Al Barsha. Despite extensive searches, publicity in the UAE, Britain and South Africa and the involvement of authorities from all three countries, no body has been found.

Because of that, the lower court ruled that, though guilty, MA should not be executed. Prosecutors said MA stalked Winter for days before assaulting her on the day she went missing. Neighbours told prosecutors they saw him beat her with a baseball bat before dragging her into a car and driving away. He was arrested five days later and charged with premeditated murder. During the investigation, police accused MA of two versions of the crime: one in which he dumped Winter's body at sea, and one in which he buried it in the desert.

He was eventually charged with dumping the body at sea after bludgeoning Winter to death. Hussien al Jaziri, the Winter family lawyer, asked to be allowed to present his case to the appeals court, but Judge al Sharief told him to not interfere. The judge said Mr al Jaziri's role had ended with the lower court's guilty verdict. He told the lawyer to pursue only the family's civil case against MA.

The claim, being pursued by Winter's brother, Kurt, asks the court to grant the family Dh200,000 as blood money and Dh200,000 as a moral compensation. The case was adjourned, at the request of the defence, until July 25. amustafa@thenational.ae