DUBAI // Three men have been sentenced to life in jail after being found guilty of kidnapping a British businessman almost two years ago.
Abbas Yazasanpanah Yazdi, of Iranian descent, has been missing since June 2013 in what is believed to have been a politically motivated kidnapping.
Iranians R A, 32, K J, 52, and N K, 55 were charged with kidnapping, theft, hiding stolen property, assault and endangering life. Three other accused Iranians are still at large.
At the last hearing, last month, the court heard that the defendants had committed a hideous crime and tried to damage the reputation and safety of the UAE.
“This is not just a kidnap crime, it’s an assault on the reputation of the UAE, its safety and the safety of its people and everyone who resides or invests in it,” chief prosecutor Khaled Al Zarouni told Dubai Criminal Court.
Mr Al Zarouni said the victim had fled from oppression to the UK but was kidnapped because of testimony he had given to an international arbitration tribunal in The Hague.
Records show that five months before the kidnapping, which took place on June 25, 2013, the gang rented a villa in Al Barsha and used it as a base. There they hid rented cars used to watch and kidnap the victim, along with gloves, ropes, duct tape, taser guns and syringes filled with sedatives used in the crime.
Mr Yazdi, a father of two who owns a trading firm in Bur Dubai, was kidnapped in the car park of his workplace, prosecutors said, adding that the gang put him on a ship to Iran after striking a deal with its captain.
An Iranian opposition figure in London has said Mr Yazdi was kidnapped to gather evidence against Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, a childhood friend.
Mr Rafsanjani, the son of a former leader, was charged with inciting unrest after the re-election in 2009 of then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Questions were raised when it was revealed by The Guardian newspaper that addresses and details taken from Mr Yazdi’s computer by the UK’s special fraud office had been passed on to Tehran in early 2013.
Mr Al Zarouni told the court last month: “In January 2013 one of the defendants came to Dubai and rented a house, which was used as a centre to plan and carry out the crime.
“Cars were rented and the victim was put under close observation, and on the day of the incident after a long day at work, the victim, who was taking his car to head home to his wife and family, was attacked, drugged and taken to Sharjah port, where he was smuggled into a ship and back to Iran.”
He said that after months of investigations, prosecutors had found medication used to drug the victim and masks were found in the victim’s car and in the rented house.
Mr Al Zarouni said that a credit card belonging to the victim was found on one of the defendants, along with a small bag and business cards.
At Dubai Criminal Court last May, R A said he was not guilty of hiding stolen property, assault and endangering life. But he confessed to kidnapping and stealing money from the victim.
He told the court he was the one who drove the car used in the kidnapping.
The other two defendants denied all charges.
Essam Al Humaidan, Dubai’s Attorney General, has said that arrest warrants have been issued for the three Iranians still at large.
“The three held were arrested in January last year after returning to Dubai for the second time after the kidnap happened, just to ensure that everything was fine and the villa they rented was still safe away from police’s eyes,” said Mr Al Zarouni.
All three defendants will be deported after completing their sentences.