Reem Island murder case: lawyer claims non-Muslim witness testimonies ‘invalid’

Alaa Al Hashemi, 30, is accused of stabbing to death American school teacher Ibolya Ryan, 37.

Alaa Al Hashemi, 30, is accused of stabbing to death American schoolteacher Ibolya Ryan, 37, last year. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Police

ABU DHABI // Some of the testimonies against a woman accused of the Reem Island murder of an American teacher are invalid because the witnesses are not Muslim, according to her lawyer.

Abdulqader Al Haithami, representing Alaa Al Hashemi, said on Sunday that some witnesses who testified in court were not Muslim and their testimonies should therefore be disregarded.

“The law states cases of murder according to Sharia law are not proven unless they are pleaded by the council of judges, testimony of two male witnesses, or by the oath.

“The oath taken by the witnesses is invalid as they are not Muslim,” he said.

Al Hashemi, 30, is on trial at the Federal Supreme Court on charges of stabbing teacher Ibolya Ryan, 37, to death in Boutik Mall, on Reem Island on December 2.

The Emirati is also accused of making an explosive device with the aim of killing a doctor and his family who lived in a building on the Corniche.

The court had also heard that she promoted terrorist propaganda, spread information that harmed the country and donated funds online to a terrorist organisation while knowing it would be used in terrorist acts.

Mr Al Haithami also claimed the medical reports that stated Al Hashemi was not suffering from a mental illness were "contradictory".

“The first report shows she is suffering from many emotional and mental issues and said it was crucial to have the defendant referred to an internal mental department under strict notice, while the other found her responsible for her actions,” he said.

“The other report also says the defendant has ‘childish’ behaviours and does not understand the dangerous acts that she has committed. This proves the contradiction of the reports, which is why I am insisting my client is referred to a specialised hospital.”

He argued that Al Hashemi was married at a young age, and her husband – who is reportedly being held in custody for a separate crime – was “able to hypnotise her”.

Mr Al Haithami suggested her husband should be tried alongside her.

He also said Al Hashemi’s attempts to make a bomb – which failed to explode – had been “amateurish”.

He also said the websites she had visited had been accessed a month before the crime was committed, which proved they were not relevant to his client’s case.

Mr Al Haithami said the case files were filled with spelling mistakes and grammatical inaccuracies, making them void.

He claimed Al Hashemi was forced to sign the investigation files, even though they were inaccurate. He said they were invalid as well.

“She is unaware and weak-willed and I call for her acquittal or a lesser penalty,” he said.

Members of the prosecution rejected Mr Al Haithami’s requests to send the defendant to a special hospital and to try her alongside her husband.

The verdict will be announced on June 29.