Crime and Courts

Death row Emirati convict walks free after 14 years

Ahmed Shaaban/Ras Al Khaimah
Filed on December 19, 2016 | Last updated on December 19, 2016 at 05.55 am
Picture used for illustrative purposes alone
Picture used for illustrative purposes alone

(Alamy Image)

He was released from the court premises recently as he had already served nine years more than the ordered imprisonment.

After languishing in jail for 14 years, waiting for a death penalty, an Emirati walked free recently as the court commuted his death sentence to five years in prison over a murder charge.

The man escaped the death sentence after the RAK Court of Cassation reduced the punishment after considering the fact that he was a minor when committing the crime. He was released from the court premises recently as he had already served nine years more than the ordered imprisonment.

As per court records, the case dates back to September 2002 when the defendant, identified as A.A., stabbed one of his fellows to death during a brawl.

The murderer was arrested by the RAK Police and referred to the Public Prosecution, which charged him with premeditated murder. Following intensive interrogation, he was referred to the RAK Criminal Court.

The court, in December 2002, did not accept the defendant's claims that he did the crime in self defence, and sentenced him to death.

The defendant challenged the verdict before the RAK Criminal Court of Appeal, claiming that the victim was his close friend and he never meant to end his life.

The defence lawyer based his pleading on the fact that his client was a minor when he committed the crime, and it was never a premeditated murder but just a fight which ended in an unintentional killing.

However, the higher court turned down the plea and upheld the death sentence, but ordered the suspension of the sentence until the heirs of the victim become legally major to decide either to pardon the accused or to request death.

Fourteen years later, when the sons of the deceased reached the legal age of consent, the defendant challenged his jail term before the Court of Cassation, which referred the case to the court of appeal to look into it anew.

The Criminal Court of Appeal agreed to the defence lawyer's pleading this time and commuted the death sentence to only a five-year jail term.

How the case unfolded

> 17-year-old Emirati kills his friend during a brawl in September 2002

> RAK Criminal Court sentences him to death for premeditated murder in December 2002

> Appellate court upholds verdict, but suspends death sentence till victim's sons attained legal age to issue pardon or insist on death sentence

> 14 years later, appellate court commutes death sentence to five years in prison

> Convict is freed as he has served 14 years in jail instead of five 

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