Pilots acquitted of forging permits

The case that began when the two men were arrested after flying over the Dubai police chief's house in Jumeirah has been dismissed.

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DUBAI // Two pilots were acquitted of forgery charges for the second time yesterday in a case that began when they were arrested after flying over the Dubai police chief's house in Jumeirah.

A Hungarian man, LT, 43, the founder of Dubai's Micro Aviation Club, and a British engineer, JC, 52, were charged on October 3 with forging an official document and use of forged documents.

The two were initially charged in the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours in December last year with flying a single-engined aircraft without permits, five to 10 metres above beachgoers.

According to prosecution records, the men were arrested on February 18 last year, after a police officer patrolling in front of Dubai police chief Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim's house spotted the low-flying, single-engined aircraft and ordered them to land.

A 48-year-old British professor, JW, and LT were also charged with forging an Emirates Aviation Association flying permit.

The Dubai Court of Misdemeanours acquitted all three of the men of the charges, but fined JC Dh3,000 for flying without a permit. The fine was not contested.

Prosecutors then appealed the sentence in July and asked the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours to refer the case to a Criminal Court, on the grounds that the men forged an official flying permit.

Dr Ali al Jarman, JC's lawyer, told the court in previous hearings this year that the prosecutors had no grounds for a criminal case. He said there was no forgery because the permit, which was issued by LT to JC, was not stamped or signed, but was a standard-issue permit given by the Emirates Aviation Association (EAA), a government body that at the time regulated parachuters and paragliders.

Micro-aviation, or flying ultralights, was still not officially recognised, but fliers trained by the Micro Aviation Club were given permit cards. Although the permits had no legal standing, they were not forgeries.

For the permits to be official, the EAA would have had to have finalised its official registration.

An EAA representative testified in January that the association did not process permits for such aircraft, but was reviewing considerations to do so at the time of the incident. It now issues official permits for ultralights.