Sheikh Issa verdict will stand

The 15-day period for filing an appeal in the trial of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed expires, formally concluding the proceeding.

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ABU DHABI // The 15-day period for filing an appeal in the trial of Sheikh Issa bin Zayed expired yesterday, formally concluding the proceeding. Sheikh Issa was acquitted on January 10 of abusing an Afghan grain vendor on a farm near Al Ain due to "diminished responsibility" brought about by drugs that the sheikh had been tricked into taking.

The court held that two Lebanese-American brothers, Bassam and Ghassan Nabulsi, former business partners of Sheikh Issa, drugged him and taped the sheikh as he abused Mohammed Shapoor, in an apparent effort to blackmail the sheikh. The court said two witnesses saw Ghassan Nabulsi put a pill in Sheikh Issa's drink. Mr Shapoor was hospitalised for more than 20 days after the incident, according to court documents. He settled out of court with Sheikh Issa for an undisclosed sum.

According to Islamic law, as cited by the judge in the verdict: "A drunk person cannot be punished for his crimes if he did not know the content he was drinking contains alcohol and this drunkenness caused him to commit a crime while he is mentally unaware." The judge cited several cases in Egypt's supreme court in which the argument of diminished responsibility was used successfully. The Nabulsis were sentenced in absentia to five years each. Three other men, accused of helping restrain or abuse Mr Shapoor, received sentences of one to three years. Another man, accused of being a security officer who appeared in the video, was acquitted because he could not be positively identified.

Sheikh Issa is suing the Nabulsis over damage to his reputation.