Convict no-show in court over Dubai prison fire charges

Prosecutors told Dubai Criminal Court that Emirati AE had on July 22 last year used a cigarette to set mattresses on fire because he was upset that he was moved from one area of the jail to another.

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DUBAI // A 33-year-old convict who allegedly set fire to other inmates’ beds at Dubai Central Prison was not present in court to defend himself.

Prosecutors told Dubai Criminal Court that Emirati AE had on July 22 last year used a cigarette to set mattresses on fire because he was upset that he was moved from one area of the jail to another.

He was charged with starting a fire at an inhabited place, deliberately damaging public property to the tune of Dh650 and with committing an act that poses danger to lives of many other people.

Emirati policeman MS, 21, testified that it was 2.15pm when he was informed of the fire. He left his office to attend to the incident and found the corridor outside the defendant’s cell was filled with smoke.

“I was heading there to search for the cell where the fire started, so I saw the defendant had placed a burning mattress in the middle of the corridor,” said the warden. “I told him to put the fire out but he refused, so I did.”

He said he then asked the defendant’s brother, who is also serving jail time, to convince the defendant to get out of his cell and tell wardens why he started the fire but even the brother failed.

“Later, he came out and said that he was upset because his sister came to visit and because he was moved from his ward,” said MS.

The reason for the convict’s no-show was not clear but a new hearing date was set for February 22.

salamir@thenational.ae