x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

New Dubai narcotics court hears its first cases

The new court circuit dedicated to drugs offences hears its first cases, with forty people charged with offences from consumption of narcotics to possession.

DUBAI // A new court circuit dedicated to drugs offences heard its first cases yesterday. Forty people were charged with offences from consumption of narcotics to possession.  The court is headed by Judge Adil Ahmed Abdel Rahim and presided over by Judges Omar Kasmatagy and Salem al Qaidi. It heard its first 37 cases yesterday and is expected to continue next Monday.

Drugs cases are among the most frequently heard criminal cases at the Dubai Courts. The conviction rate is 95 per cent, according to the Chief Narcotics Prosecutor, Waleed al Fuqai. Chief Justice Ahmed Saif of the Dubai Criminal Courts said the new court was a temporary measure but may become permanent. "We implemented the circuit after a number of requests to speed up the adjudication of cases during summer," he said.

"I believe that this court will help to relieve the strain on other circuits and we are studying this plan," he added. There has been a significant increase in criminal cases recently, Chief Justice Saif said, although he was unable to provide exact numbers.  As part of an expansion plan and recruitment drive the number of misdemeanour courts will increase from seven to 10 and criminal courts from three to four by 2011. The drive includes the recruitment of 14 new Arab judges and eight Emirati judges.    

Among those accused in court yesterday were two police officers, tourists and employees charged with consuming or peddling a total of more than 15kg of contraband substances. Most of the cases involved consumption of marijuana, hashish and heroin, and a few involved methadone and cocaine. According to police statistics, more than 1,400 people have been arrested in Dubai in the past year for drug peddling, consumption and possession. Major Gen Abdel Jalil Mahdi, head of the Dubai Police Anti Narcotics department said that of the 1,483 people arrested there were 562 Asians, 490 Gulf nationals, 147 Arabs, 112 Europeans, 108 Africans, 20 Americans, 11 Australians, eight unidentified people and 25 stateless people.  The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy towards narcotics. Penalties vary from a minimum one-year jail sentence for consumption of controlled drugs to death for trading in large quantities. amustafa@thenational.ae