Family of battered man faces new nightmare

The family of a man found bludgeoned to death in his apartment say they are struggling to pay off his debts.

On the left is Hisham el Hanafi, 26, the victim's brother who I interviewed for tomorrow's story. On the right is the victim, Hani el Hanafi, 33.
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Dubai // The family of a man found bludgeoned to death in his apartment say they are struggling to pay off his debts. Hisham el Hanafi, who found his high-flying brother Hani's blood-covered body in his flat in Bahara, Dubai, said he had been plagued by nightmares ever since. On Tuesday the family saw, for the first time, the man accused of killing Hani, when he appeared before the Dubai Court of First Instance.

He is a 52-year-old Egyptian known as AH. Afterwards Hisham, 26, spoke of his desire for vengeance. "We will not rest until Hani's killer is executed," he said. Hisham told how Hani, 33, had been planning to expand his satellite television business and marry his Russian fiancée. "He was just weeks away from opening an import-export company. Hani was doing really well. He always had cash and was always ready to help those in need. I think that's what may have got him killed. Now his businesses have closed, and the banks are calling us to settle his debts. The situation has become more than any person can bear."

According to the Public Prosecutor's report, AH beat Hani to death on March 9, then robbed him of his car keys, mobile telephone and credit card, which he used to buy gold, a phone, meals and a cinema ticket. After the family was unable to reach Hani by telephone from their home in Kuwait, Hisham, his brother, Hossan, 29, and their mother, Fathiya, flew to Dubai on March 13. "We thought he had gone to China to buy supplies for his business or had flown to Russia to marry his fiancée, Katrina, like he had been planning to do the following month. We thought that he wanted to surprise us by showing up with her at our doorstep in Kuwait," said Hisham.

"By the fourth day we really got worried. When we arrived I went straight to my brother's apartment I was looking forward to hearing about the new business that he had opened that we were going to share together when I moved to Dubai in a few weeks." Hisham opened the apartment's door to a sight he will never forget. "The lights were off when I walked in and the curtains were drawn. Through the shadows I saw my brother on the floor with a pillow covering his head. I thought he was taking a nap. But when I turned on the lights, I saw all the blood and knew my brother was dead." Hani's mother and Hossan were downstairs ordering food for a family meal. They spent the following days speaking with police and the Public Prosecutor, and making funeral arrangements.

The family has struggled to come to terms with the loss of Hani. Hisham said he was constantly reminded of Hani by his three-year-old niece's daily questions: "Where is Hani? When is Hani coming?" Hisham said: "I see Hani in my dreams. He tells me, 'I was killed, Hisham. You have to get me justice'. "Everywhere we go in Dubai reminds us of Hani because he would be the one to show us around when we visited. Dubai was supposed to be the place where Hani would live with his future wife and children.

"He arrived in Dubai six years ago and worked as an accountant at Dream Satellite until a few months before his death when he opened up his own store. He had lots of customers." The only relief for Hisham comes occasionally in his sleep when he sees his brother dressed in white smiling at him, his face bathed in "a glorious light". "Hani comes to me in my sleep on days when I am particularly sad and tells me, 'I am not dead Hisham, I am alive with God'."

The family left for Kuwait yesterday but will return to Dubai on August 4 to attend the next court hearing.