x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE lawyers of Briton and Syrian on death row cast doubt on source

Lawyers for the two men criticise police for refusing to reveal the identity of the source of their information, but police say he is a drug addict.

ABU DHABI // The anonymous informant who tipped off police about a drugs deal that led to two men being sentenced to death is a drug addict, the Appeals Court was told yesterday.

Lawyers for the two men criticised police for refusing to reveal the identity of the source of their information.

M?B, 19, from Syria, and N?S, 25, from Britain, were sentenced to death at the Criminal Court in June last year for selling 20 grams of marijuana to an undercover police officer for Dh1,000.

The Syrian teenager’s lawyer, Ahmad Al Othali, questioned the reliability of the unidentified informant who led police to the two men. He was no “mosque imam”, the lawyer said. but a drug addict caught by police and assigned to lead them to other drug users and dealers.

“What is more important? Hiding the identity of the source, or the rights of this defendant who has been sentenced to death?” Mr Al Othali said.

The lieutenant in charge of arresting the two men told the court he had previously bought hashish from the Syrian for Dh500. He had it tested at a lab to be sure it was the drug before setting up the “sting” operation to arrest the pair.

Defence lawyers asked where that hashish was now, and accused the police lieutenant of having fabricated the whole incident.

They also dismissed a report submitted to the court by police as meaningless because it failed to answer their questions about the source and the whereabouts of the piece of cannabis.

Mr Al Othali said the police lieutenant’s own evidence to prosecutors showed that the Syrian was not a dealer. When asked why the Syrian possessed the drugs, the officer said he did not know.

Another defence lawyer, Fayza Moussa, said the police account of the drugs deal did not make sense.

“The price of one kilogram of hashish is Dh12,000, which means 20g is Dh240 – why would police pay Dh1,500? Is money that cheap to them?”

The judge asked the Syrian what the going rate was for 1kg of hashish. “How would he know?” Ms Moussa interjected before her client could reply.

A verdict will be announced on March 13.