Obaida killer to be executed, Dubai court rules

Parents relieved as man who kidnapped, raped and strangled the eight-year-old loses last legal bid against death sentence.

Obaida, front row, 2nd from right, with school classmates. Courtesy Jeel Al Jadeed Private School
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DUBAI // The man who kidnapped, raped and killed Obaida Al Aqrabawi, 8, is to be executed after he lost his final appeal at Dubai’s highest court on Monday.

Dubai’s Cassation Court overruled the appeal lodged by Jordanian Nidal Ali, 49, and upheld the death sentence against him.

“We can’t believe it is over,” said Obaida’s mother, Zaineb Sharif. “Yesterday I was telling my mother that, inshallah, tomorrow we will hear that he will be executed.

“We can’t thank enough all the people who stood by us and supported us during this ordeal.”


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Obaida was kidnapped on May 20 while playing outside his father’s garage in Sharjah’s industrial area. His body was found two days later on Academic City Road in Al Warqa.

Ali was sentenced to death by Dubai Criminal Court on August 15 last year, a verdict that was upheld on January 22 by Dubai Court of Appeal.

Now that the verdict has again been upheld at the 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.

Obaida’s family were waiting at their Sharjah home when the verdict came through.

“Since early morning we were waiting to hear and the family has not slept in anticipation,” said Ibrahim Al Aqrabawi, his father. “Now that justice has been served, we will try to move on with our lives.”

After hearing the news Mr Al Aqrabawi, from Jordan, went up to his flat to tell his wife and Obaida’s grandmother.

Obaida’s 70-year-old grandmother, Adla Othman, was in tears when she heard the news.

“I was flown in 10 days ago from Jordan to stand by my daughter and our family. I am relieved now that the killer will be executed for what he did to my grandson,” she said.

“He was an angel, a nice kid, well behaved. And he was brutally murdered, may he rest in peace.”

Mr Al Aqrabawi said that during the trial several people had asked him to drop the charges.

“Relatives have been trying to call me, text me to pardon him. I had to block them on WhatsApp. I wanted nothing but justice for my son and our family and now it has been served,” he said.

During the trial, Ali admitted to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol on the day he strangled Obaida but he denied sexual assault and kidnapping, saying the boy went willingly into his car.

During the appeals case, Ali’s defence lawyer requested a psychological evaluation for his client, which was later presented to the court.

The report found that he suffered from antisocial personality disorder and alcohol dependency “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”.

“The killer was admitted to Rashid Hospital’s psychiatric section, where he was examined by a medical committee for a week,” the report said. “He also underwent a personality test by psychiatrists and their clinical diagnosis was consistent with the committee’s findings.”

Results of a CT scan were normal, as were the results of an electroencephalogram, which showed no signs of any epilepsy.