DUBAI // A gang of 18 prisoners who were found not guilty of murdering a fellow inmate had their acquittal upheld by the Court of Appeal on Sunday.
The case involved the murder of Ayyoub Abdul Rida, 42, an Emirati who was killed on the second day of Eid Al Fitr in August 2012.
The prosecution claimed that the victim, who was nicknamed Rida the Burned for his penchant for setting fire to himself and property, was murdered in an act of revenge after he chopped off the finger of R A, 31, another Emirati.
At the original trial at the Criminal Court, the 18 defendants were acquitted of premeditated murder.
Another five inmates, Z S, 27, from Georgia, P K, 32, of Uzbekistan, S E, 29, and J P, 40, both Russian, and E M, 31, from Kyrgistan, belonged to a gang headed by Abdul Rida. They were acquitted of attempting to kill R M, who was feuding with Rida over who controlled the prison.
Prosecution records said that the 18 inmates who killed Rida used sharpened tools and a pointed stick to stab him to death in his cell.
Seven of the 18 defendants faced a separate charge of assaulting the deceased’s friend inside the prison, but they were also acquitted by the Criminal Court.
The victim had served six months of a three-year sentence on charges of assault. He had previous convictions for arson, setting fire to himself and to a police station.
A police corporal, who was sacked from his job after the incident, testified that he was in charge of opening the gate leading to the cell block where the deceased was being held in solitary confinement.
He said he opened the gate to allow a prisoner out after a visit when 40 other inmates stormed the block.
The corporal said he tried to stop them, but they threatened to kill him.
A police captain testified that he received a call while on duty informing him of the murder.
“The ambulance arrived but Ayyoub Abdul Rida was bleeding from every part of his body, and then I knew he died in the ambulance on the way to Rashid Hospital,” he said.
Court records show that riot police were called to control the inmates after the fight.
The Dubai Criminal Court acquitted all defendants as CCTV footage of the incident was not clear enough to identify any of the perpetrators of the murder.
They also found that it was impossible to ascertain which of the 40 men who entered Rida’s cell actually killed him.
Prosecution appealed against the verdict, but the Court of Appeal upheld the original acquittal.