Reem Island murder accused to undergo specialist mental health tests

Alaa Al Hashemi, 30, is accused of stabbing mother of three Ibolya Ryan to death in Boutik Mall late last year.

CCTV footage from Waitrose, Reem Island, shows murder suspect Alaa Al Hashemi, 30, in Boutik Mall on December 1. Courtesy Security Media
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ABU DHABI // The woman accused of killing American teacher Ibolya Ryan on Reem Island will be tested for mental and behavioural disorders, the Federal Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

Alaa Al Hashemi, 30, is accused of stabbing the 47-year-old mother of three to death in Boutik Mall in December.

In a previous hearing, the Emirati said she was “possessed with evil spirits”. She said she had dealt with a “chronic mental illness” since she was 3 and would see “ghost-like people” who forced her to play with them.

This got worse as she grew older, Ms Al Hashemi told the court three weeks ago.

“I would see women who would call on me and ask me to play with them. When I didn’t, they bothered me.”

She said she “acts without thinking or realising”, and the visions she had were similar to being possessed.

Last week, Judge Falah Al Hajeri ruled she be sent to a hospital for testing. A medical report then said she must see a specialist and be strictly supervised.

Judge Al Hajeri requested Ms Al Hashemi be examined by a medical committee and for a detailed report on her condition to be presented to court.

Ms Ryan, an American nursery teacher who was born in Romania and raised in Hungary, was stabbed to death in the toilets near Waitrose in the mall on December 1.

Five witnesses due to give evidence on Tuesday failed to appear at the hearing. Judge Al Hajeri called for them to attend the next hearing and fined each of them Dh1,000.

Ms Al Hashemi’s lawyer, Abdulqader Al Haithami, said his client should appear alongside two other women if the witnesses were asked to identify her.

“This is not part of our procedures but we will have to look into the matter,” judge Al Hajeri said.

The judge called another witness, a police officer who found evidence in the defendant’s home, although the details were not disclosed.

Ms Al Hashemi is also accused of trying to murder a doctor and his family by planting a home-made bomb outside their apartment, in a building on the Corniche.

She is charged with sending money to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen, knowing that it would be used for terrorist activities.

The defendant is also said to have built two websites where she spread terrorist ideals, promoted ISIL philosophy and defamed symbols of the UAE, in an attempt to ruin the country’s reputation.

The case was adjourned until Monday.

aalkhoori@thenational.ae