x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nigerian passenger arrested with 130 cocaine capsules inside him

A drug smuggler who was taken ill on a stopover on a connecting flight through Abu Dhabi airport was found to have 1kg of cocaine in his stomach.

ABU DHABI// A Nigerian air passenger who fell ill at Abu Dhabi airport was found to have 130 capsules of cocaine in his stomach, the criminal court has heard.

But his defence lawyer, Mohammed Al Hajeri, said that as the defendant was on a stopover while waiting for a connecting flight he should not have been put on trial.

The lawyer also claimed his client had been set up by police. But the officer who arrested him failed to show up at the hearing and was fined Dh1,000.

The man was on a transit flight from Brazil to Nigeria, via Abu Dhabi, the court heard.

After disembarking, he began to suffer severe pains in his stomach, so police issued him a permit so he could receive treatment.

He fell into a coma and was taken to hospital, where a doctor claimed to have found 130 drug capsules weighing 1kg inside him.

Mr Al Hajeri argued that there was no way he could have survived the 16 hour flight from Brazil with that much cocaine inside him.

The defendant said he was handcuffed naked for 15 days and only confessed to the crime after he was tortured.

Furthermore, police, prosecution and forensics reports all differed on the number of capsules found inside his body, said Mr Al Hajeri.

“Also it doesn’t make sense why police issued him with an entry permit when he was on transit and did not want to enter the UAE to begin with,” he said.

“So if I, Mohammed Al Hajeri, did not want to enter the beautiful country, they force me to enter anyway?”

He asked if his client had planned to sell the drugs on UAE soil.

The defendant said he was on transit through the country and was planning to meet his recipient in Nigeria.

“So UAE courts are not specialised to look this case,” said Mr Al Hajeri.

He said that UAE jurisdiction does not apply to the transit areas of the airport because it is legally considered as a border.

Mr Al Hajeri added that he will conduct a study on whether UAE courts have the authority to deal with criminals who are apprehended in airports.

The case was adjourned until February 2 for the forensics doctor and arrest police officer to attend.

hdajani@thenational.ae