x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE chess official attacked in Hungary

A senior Emirati chess official is critically injured in a hospital in Hungary after he was attacked in the street by men claiming to be immigration police.

DUBAI // A senior Emirati chess official is critically injured in a hospital in Hungary after he was attacked in the street by men claiming to be immigration police. Saud Mohammed Al Marzooqi was assaulted on Friday evening outside a restaurant in the town of Szeged near the border with Serbia.

Mr Al Marzooqi, a member of the UAE Chess Federation, was with the Emirati chess grand master Salim Abdulrahman at the time of the attack. Mr Abdulrahman, 18, was not injured.

"As the two finished dinner they were stopped outside the restaurant by three men who claimed they were immigration police officers," the chess federation secretary general Hisham Al Taher said yesterday.

"According to what we were told, the men spoke to them in Hungarian and started to intimidate them, which made Saud and Salim nervous."

Mr Al Taher said the two Emiratis ran away from the three Hungarians, who chased them for two blocks. "They caught Saud and beat him in the head and body. Currently he is in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

"The doctors said he had suffered heavy injuries to the head and has to remain in hospital for two weeks.

"They also said that he cannot be transported by air as this might cause complications."

According to the chess federation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked for an investigation and officials at the UAE embassy in the Austrian capital, Vienna - which has responsibility for Hungary - are due to meet Mr Al Marzooqi to arrange medical transport. The ministry would not comment yesterday.

Sheikh Saud Al Mualla, president of the chess federation, planned to fly to Hungary but was assured of the two Emiratis' medical condition by UAE embassy officials.

"The men were due to return on Saturday. The incident took place on their last day in Hungary," Mr Al Taher said.

"Salim refused to return and is staying with Saud in the hospital."

The men had been in Hungary for more than two weeks to prepare Mr Abdulrahman for the World Junior Chess Championship in Athens in August.

"He was training with the Hungarian grand master Peter Leko in Szeged," said Mr Al Taher.

Mr Leko has expressed his sympathy and support. It is unclear when the men will return to the UAE.

amustafa@thenational.ae