DUBAI // Obaida Al Aqrabawi’s family voiced their relief at the ruling that will lead to the execution of the boy’s killer and their intention to move on with their lives.
On Monday, Jordanian Nidal Ali, 49, lost his final appeal at Dubai Cassation Court against his death sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of Obaida, 8, last May.
Obaida was taken by a drunken Ali while playing outside his father’s garage in Sharjah’s industrial area on May 20. His body was found two days later on Academic City Road in Al Warqa, Dubai.
Obaida’s family had a sleepless night before the ruling from Dubai’s highest court. They had continued with the prosecution despite repeated efforts from Ali’s family to get them to spare his life in exchange for blood money. Obaida’s father, Ibrahim, a Jordanian, rejected the offer of the blood money.
“His relatives have been trying to call me, texting me to pardon him,” said Mr Al Aqrabawi. “They even contacted my family members back in Jordan to accept the blood money. But since day one, I refused to accept that. He should be killed for what he did to my son.”
Mr Al Aqrabawi said he had to block Ali’s relatives on his social media accounts to stop them from trying to persuade him to accept the blood money.
“No amount of money will ever return my son back to life. I wanted nothing but justice for my son and our family, and now it has been served,” he said.
“Since early morning we were waiting to hear the ruling, and the family has not slept yesterday in anticipation. Now that justice has been served, we will try to move on with our lives.”
When he was informed of the top court’s ruling, Mr Al Aqrabawi went home to share the news with his wife and Obaida’s grandmother. “We can’t believe it is over. Yesterday, I was telling my mother that, inshallah, tomorrow we will hear that he will be executed,” said Obaida’s mother, Zaineb Sharif.
“The last time I saw him was when he came up to the apartment to take an item down to his father in the garage. He hurried back afterwards. If I only knew that it would be the last time I would see him, I would have not let him go.”
Obaida had two sisters, Aya, 6, and Tala, 5. “He was kind to his sisters and helpful. Aya is still sad about losing her brother,” said Mrs Al Aqrabawi.
“But we can’t thank enough all the people who stood by us and supported us during this ordeal. The number of people who came by to support us gave us the feeling that Obaida was the son of every man and woman, and our grief was theirs as well.”
Obaida’s grandmother, Adla Othman, 70, cried when she heard the ruling. “He was an angel, a nice child, well behaved and he was brutally murdered. May he rest in peace,” she said.
Ali will become the first expatriate to be executed in Dubai since 2011, when a man who raped and killed a child faced a firing squad.
Ali was sentenced to death by Dubai Criminal Court on August 15 last year, a verdict that was upheld by Dubai Court of Appeal on January 22 this year.
Now that the ruling has also been upheld by Dubai Cassation Court, the case will be referred to the President, Sheikh Khalifa, or Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to approve the execution and set a date for it.
During his trial, Ali admitted to drinking an excessive amount of alcohol on the day he strangled Obaida, but he denied kidnapping and sexually assaulting the boy. He said Obaida willingly got into his car.
A psychological evaluation showed that Ali suffered from an antisocial personality disorder and dependence on alcohol, “but it does not affect his perception nor does it hinder his ability to distinguish right from wrong. He is fully aware and responsible for his action”.
Through all the pain, Mr Al Aqrabawi has found comfort in his faith. “There is not a day gone by since Obaida’s death that we don’t think about him, but he left this world for a better place,” he said.