x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Killer saved once from firing squad

A killer who escaped a firing squad six years ago when his victim's father forgave him was sentenced to death again yesterday for another murder.

SHARJAH // A killer who escaped a firing squad six years ago when his victim's father forgave him was sentenced to death again yesterday for another murder. AM was among four men convicted of the rape and murder of an Ethiopian housemaid in what police said was one of the most serious crimes they had investigated. The Sharjah Court of First Instance issued the death penalty to AM, 35, SR, 32, HA, 33, and AJ, 30, all Emiratis.

The four defendants in what has became known locally as the "Al Dhaid murder" kidnapped the Ethiopian maid in Khor Fakkan in August last year. The court's three-judge panel heard that they taped her mouth shut and pushed her into their sport utility vehicle before driving her into the desert. They first raped her in Khor Fakkan before putting her back in the vehicle and driving her to the mountains near Al Dhaid, a farming town in Sharjah's central district. There they raped her a second time.

Prosecutors said the men then ran their SUV over her head and battered her with rocks before attempting to hide her body. Their sentencing had been adjourned several times. Six years ago, AM and an accomplice were standing in front of a firing squad when the Pakistani girl's father, an imam, forgave them for raping and killing his daughter. The Federal Supreme Court had sentenced AM and another Emirati man to death after hearing how they snatched the girl from outside her house, bound and gagged her, and raped her. They then drove her to Masafi where they dumped her, unconscious, under a bridge.

Her body was found nine days later by goat herders. Under UAE law, a death sentence is overturned if the victim's family pardons the condemned person. The imam was quoted in media reports at the time as saying both the spared men promised him they would devote the rest of their lives to serving God. After their reprieve, the men were returned to jail, but it is unclear when they were released. AM and his three accomplices in the murder of the housemaid could be spared after evidence is reviewed by appeal judges.

Cases involving capital punishment automatically go to appeal. @Email:ykakande@thenational.ae