American tourist faces five years' jail for stealing police handcuffs

An American says he has been railroaded into charges he stole a pair of handcuffs while on vacation in Dubai.

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DUBAI// An American tourist accused of stealing handcuffs from a police station in Dubai is awaiting a verdict next week.

The 30-year-old defendant, AF, is charged with theft. But his attorney, Yousuf Hammad, said that the prosecution's story did not add up and that AF had found the cuffs, not stolen them.

"This charge is punishable by about five years in prison," Mr Hammad said, adding that he had asked the court to downgrade the charge to possessing a lost item, the penalty for which is a few months in prison or a fine.



According to records, AF gave police and prosecution two different stories. He confessed to police investigators to stealing the handcuffs off a desk at the Jebel Ali Police Station, but when he was referred to prosecution, he said he had found them.

He told prosecutors that he had come to Dubai for a visit and went to Ibn Battuta Mall. When he left the mall and was walking in the parking lot, he spotted the handcuffs on the ground, he testified.

He said he took them and kept them in his luggage, but as he was leaving the country through Dubai International Airport on February 25, the handcuffs were found. Because they had a serial number that showed they belonged to police, he was accused of theft and taken into custody.

He was detained at the Port Police Station.

The handcuffs belong to OK, a 24-year-old officer at Jebel Ali Police Station.

According to records, before dawn on February 25, AF and three other people were taken to the Jebel Ali station for a security check after a police patrol picked them up for acting suspiciously. At the station, OK was carrying out the check in a room with two desks.

OK said he left his handcuffs on his desk. He found no records for the men during the security check, so he let them go about 6am. He said he went home after work and did not notice the handcuffs missing until the station called him.

Later that day he was informed that a man had been arrested at the airport and charged with stealing his handcuffs.

AF denied the charges before Judge Hamdy Abu al Khair on April 21.

"It's not logical, your honour, that a man being inspected in a security check at a police station would steal from there," Mr Hammad said at the time.

He added that there were three other people with AF, and any of them would have seen him taking the cuffs. He asked why none of those people had been questioned.

AF, who was released on bail on March 1, came to the second hearing on Tuesday with his girlfriend.