x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The week bad guys felt the heat

Pensioners jailed for torturing financial adviser, jewellers told to pay back borrowed gold and India turns chilli into a weapon. Cassie Biggs reviews the week

Digonta Saikia, a farmer, holds a bhut jolokia from his field in the Indian state of Assam. The military has turned the pepper into a weapon.
Digonta Saikia, a farmer, holds a bhut jolokia from his field in the Indian state of Assam. The military has turned the pepper into a weapon.

Three brothers who used the bank accounts of their publicly traded company like a private purse, withdrawing more than Dh600 million (US$163m) over 16 months, were told to pay back all of the money, fined a total of Dh11m and banned from holding executive positions in Dubai for 10 years. The Abdullah brothers, Tawhid, Tawfique and Tamjid, who run Damas, a Dubai-based jewellery empire set up by their Syrian father half a century ago, were said to have made 2,200 unauthorised withdrawals, including two tonnes of gold. Some of the money was used for purchases such as petrol, while some was used for massive property investments. The Dubai Financial Services Authority launched an investigation after Tawhid admitted to his board making Dh365m worth of unauthorised withdrawals from company accounts.

Majid al Ameri spent 20 hours on his new jet ski navigating the coast of the Emirates in a bid to raise Dh5 million for a school that helps children with special needs. The 28-year-old Emirati splashed out Dh140,000 for the jet ski, Dh55,000 for a motorboat and Dh10,000 on a system to collect donations for Future School, but received only Dh835 in pledges. Donations can still be made to his registered mobile number, 4643.

Tiger Woods, the golfer, gave his first interview since his string of extramarital affairs were made public, admitting to having lived "a life of a lie" and to behaviour he described as "disgusting". But any hopes of burnishing his image in the run-up to his reappearance at the Masters on April 8 were shattered when another woman came out with details of a relationship with him. That brings to 15 the number of women who have publicly admitted an affair with the golfer.

Tiramisu, coq au vin and risotto were back on the menu in Dubai after authorities rescinded a ban on cooking with alcohol. Early in the week, the government said that a law passed in 2003 that banned any alcohol in food would be strictly policed to ensure that the country's Islamic values were upheld, with violators fined up to US$5,000 (Dh18,000). But after an outcry from chefs who said their menu options would be severely curtailed, the government appeared to cave in, saying restaurants would need to clearly label dishes containing alcohol, much the same way they state which ones contain pork.

Google, the world's largest internet search engine, pulled out of China saying it could no longer condone the country's attempts to censor information and its cyber attacks on rights activists. Google said in January that it would no longer censor its search results, including those on Tibet, the banned spiritual group Falun Gong and growing social unrest in the country. Google started directing users to its site in Hong Kong instead, while officials in China denied the move would have any effect on foreign investment in the country.

A British police officer beat an animal-rights activist at the G20 protests in London last year because he mistook her carton of juice for a weapon. The officer, Delroy Smellie, went on trial this week for assault, after he was seen on a video hitting the woman in the face and then striking her on the leg with his steel baton. Prosecutors said Mr Smellie was forced to act because he deemed the woman to be threatening. But it turned out she was holding a camera in one hand and an open carton of orange juice in the other.

India is turning up the heat in its war against militants with a new weapon expected to bring tears to the eyes of its enemies: the bhut jolokia, the world's hottest chilli. The ground-up seeds of the bhut jolokia, said to be 100 times hotter than a jalapeño, will be used in grenades or tear gas canisters to immobilise criminals or flush them out of their hiding place. Research is also ongoing to make them into aerosols to be used by women against attackers.

Four German pensioners who lost about US$4 million (Dh14.7m) in the US housing crash were found guilty of abducting and torturing their financial adviser and forcing him to return their money. The former Wall Street banker, 57, was seized from his home in western Germany, bound and held for four days, during which he was hit with a stool leg and burnt with cigarettes by his elderly captors. The gang's ringleader, Roland Koenig, 74, received six years in jail; his main accomplice, Willy Dehmer, 60, received four years; Koenig's wife, Sieglinde, 79, received a 21-month suspended sentence; and Iris Fell, a doctor, 63, an 18-month suspended sentence.

Britain expelled Mossad's representative in London over Israel's cloning of passports believed to have been used by members of its intelligence agency to kill a Hamas commander in Dubai in January. The decision to kick out the unnamed diplomat followed an investigation by Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency that found "compelling evidence" that Israel had cloned the passports of Britons living in Israel. A hardline Israeli MP accused Britain of being disloyal and of failing to contribute to the war on terrorism. In what amounted to a possible admission of complicity in the killing, the MP, Aryeh Eldad, said "sometimes when you fight evil you have to detour from international law".

@Email:cbiggs@thenational.ae