Teen 'didn't aim to kill love rival'

The case of an Emirati youth who was condemned for shooting a compatriot over a girl has reached the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals.

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ABU DHABI // A teenager who was sentenced to death for fatally shooting another youth in a dispute over a girl told the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals yesterday that he did not mean to kill his rival. AS, 19, was sentenced in the Criminal Court of First Instance on August 23 after being found guilty of first-degree murder.

AS told the appeal judge that he had intended only to hurt the victim. Death sentences in the UAE must go through the two courts of appeal and require the signature of Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. This prosecution is a rare case of a gun crime involving a young person in the UAE. AS, an Emirati, appeared in court yesterday in the navy and red prison uniform worn by those who have been sentenced to death.

The judge asked him whether he had killed the victim. "It was unintentional," he replied. Asked to explain how he committed the crime, he said: "I meant to hurt him and not kill him." AS's attorney was not present in court yesterday, and another lawyer representing him asked the judge to postpone the hearing until a defence memorandum has been prepared and AS's original attorney could be present. "We have a few criticisms against the Court of First Instance," the lawyer said. He submitted details to the judge in writing. The next hearing was scheduled for October 12.

AS walked calmly back from the witness stand, looking directly at the victim's family. According to evidence given at his trial, AS and the victim, RS, also an Emirati, agreed to meet to resolve a conflict over a girl. They were joined by two friends and a young girl, all of whom would later testify in court. The group drove to a villa in Al Karamah, where AS and RS argued. AS shot RS in the back of the head. It is not known where AS obtained the gun.

AS eventually turned himself in to police, although exactly what happened between the time of the killing and his surrender was disputed in court. According to court records, AS placed the body in the back of the vehicle. Defence lawyers told the court that AS's friends suggested that he bury the body in the desert, but the friends contended that it was his idea. Defence lawyers had asserted that RS pulled out a knife during the argument and that AS shot him in self-defence. The Public Prosecution argued that the killing was premeditated.

As in every murder case, the family of the deceased was given an opportunity to accept blood money, which would spare the killer the death sentence. RS's family refused the offer. In the Criminal Court of First Instance, the defence lawyers requested that AS undergo an examination to determine his mental state. The forensic medicine unit of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department examined him and told the court that he was mentally fit to stand trial as an adult. The examiner also said AS exhibited mood swings and suicidal tendencies.

When the death sentence was pronounced, he showed no emotion. If the appeals court upholds the death sentence, the case will go to the Court of Cassation for a final hearing. hdajani@thenational.ae