x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Prisoners nearly killed me: policeman

A policeman whose his skull was fractured after being attacked says he was not informed the prisoners were dangerous.

One of the prisoners attacked the police officer with a metal bar he found among construction material in the compound.
One of the prisoners attacked the police officer with a metal bar he found among construction material in the compound.

DUBAI // A police officer who suffered a fractured skull and concussion when he was attacked by prisoners at Dubai police headquarters said he and his men were taken by surprise because the prison service failed to warn them the criminals were dangerous. Lt Hussein Obaid Hassan, who was supervising six policemen guarding the three convicts, said the men launched their attack after slipping out of metal handcuffs. He and his fellow officers were unarmed, he said.

"The punitive establishment department did not call us to let us know and I think the fact that the men were brought in at night when nearly no one was around also made it easier for them," Lt Hassan, 31, said at his home, where he is recovering. The officer was left for dead in the incident 10 days ago after being beaten over the head with a metal bar. One of the prisoners escaped but was recaptured hours later in Ras al Khaimah. The two others were recaptured at the scene.

The convicts, who were serving jail terms of 14, 15 and 24 years, respectively, for crimes including assault, drugs possession and rape, were brought to the headquarters from the central jail for tests on suspicion of taking drugs in prison. "They arrived at The Cid building on Saturday at 9.45 at night. They all seemed angry that we were taking them to get tested. We needed a urine sample from them and were trying to escort them to the forensics department when they began shouting abuse, using incredibly vulgar language," Lt Hassan said.

"They were resisting us and said they refused to take the test. They didn't want to be tested as they knew that if the results came back positive, that would add four years to their sentences." Lt Hassan was struck three times with the metal bar and suffered a deep skull fracture and a cut to his right arm that needed seven stitches. He spent five days in hospital. He said it was unusual that they were not warned the prisoners were potentially dangerous.

"We receive prisoners on a routine basis but we are always supplied background information on the criminals visiting, such as the length of their sentences, the nature of their crimes and whether they have a history of violence," he said. "On that basis, we would take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves. If we had known the criminals were dangerous we would have carried weapons or called in support from the riot squad"

"After multiple attempts to get the men to succumb and co-operate, I realised that we needed some backup from the riot police. So I went back into The Cid building to call operations and shortly after one of the policemen came in to alert me that the situation was getting out of hand. "I rushed outside and saw that the three prisoners had managed their way out of the metal cuffs and were viciously attacking a police officer. They were kicking and hitting him on the back, arms and legs. I rushed to his rescue and managed to break up the scuffle and as soon as I looked up I saw someone running towards me. I couldn't even recognise who it was as it happened so fast but I felt a blow to the back of my head."

One of the prisoners had attacked him with a metal bar he found in construction material in the compound. Lt Hassan fell to the ground. "I was drenched in blood, bleeding from my head and arm," he said. He had no idea how the prisoners got out of their handcuffs but his men told him they were "professional and well-practised when it comes to unlocking cuffs and managed to get out of them very quickly and easily".

He believes the gang targeted him because he was in charge and said his men did not help him because the prisoners scared them off by saying they had Aids. When the police rushed to help him after the attack, one of the prisoners took the opportunity to escape. "He took advantage of the situation when they rushed to my side. They thought I wouldn't make it," he said. The prisoner stole a car and was driven to Ras al Khaimah by a brother of one of the other prisoners. He apparently hoped to flee the country, but police gave chase and arrested him four hours later.

Lt Hassan said it was the first time he had been injured in seven years with the police. "I regularly arrest suspects wanted for various offences but I usually go prepared, but that attack came as a big surprise," he said. rabubaker@thenational.ae