x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Uzbek man sentenced to life for murder

An Uzbek man was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for killing a Russian businessman six years ago.

DUBAI // An Uzbek man was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for killing a Russian businessman six years ago. MA, 27, who was not present when the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance handed down the sentence, was caught during a routine traffic stop earlier this year. He fled the country after the murder, but was nabbed after returning under an alias. The defendant is suspected of having been involved with another man in the theft of US$185,000 (Dh679,000) from the Russian businessman, identified only as AB, before killing him and burying his body in the Sharjah desert.

MA was detained after a routine traffic stop when he showed police his old driving licence with his real name on it. The police computer showed he was a wanted man. Under police questioning, MA denied killing AB, and said he was asked by the second suspect, identified as Arturo, to help kill the Russian but that he refused. MA said he finally agreed to help lure AB to an apartment in Dubai in exchange for $100, then left. Asked why Arturo killed AB, MA claimed it was because the Russian man owed Arturo money.

The victim's brother, identified as EB, 31, told prosecutors that between 2000 and 2002 AB often travelled to the UAE to trade, mainly in mobile phones, and became acquaintances with MA and Arturo. EB said his brother's last trip to the UAE was on Dec 15, 2002. He arrived via Ras al Khaimah International Airport with US$200,000 in cash to buy a large number of mobile phones. EB said his brother was met at the airport by MA, Arturo and Arturo's brother, a man identified as Akbar.

EB said they took his brother to a hotel in Dubai where he changed his clothes, then they took him to Arturo's office in Deira. From that day, EB said, his brother simply disappeared. The defendants told EB that AB had gone to Abu Dhabi for three days and there was no need to worry. Shortly afterwards the defendants left the country and all attempts to contact them failed. Two weeks after his brother's disappearance, EB said he asked an Afghan man, identified only as Hameed, who was a friend of Arturo, to call Arturo from Russia and ask him about his brother.

Arturo told Hameed that MA killed AB in Dubai. Arturo said he was asleep at the time and that he heard screams and when he got up he saw MA strike AB on the head repeatedly with a hammer. Arturo said they placed AB's body in a metal box and drove up to the Sharjah-Dhaid highway. He said they buried the man's remains in the desert. EB contacted police, who raided Arturo's office in Deira but found no trace of the victim. EB then asked another Afghan friend of Arturo to call him to ask him where the body was buried. The phone call was recorded by police and in it Arturo admitted to killing AB.

Arturo then sent EB a hand-drawn map of where his brother's body was buried by fax, which police used to locate the body. Forensic examination revealed that the victim was tied up when he was killed. Arturo is believed to be in Uzbekistan. @Email:hbathish@thenational.ae