Traffic fingerprint check catches suspect in murder from 2003

Routine police check after speeding offence links man to killing of Chinese prostitute in Dubai six years ago, court told.

DUBAI // A murder suspect who had evaded the police for six years was apprehended after he committed a traffic offence and was fingerprinted. The suspect, AM, 27, was held after he was flagged in Ajman through the federal forensic fingerprint system. He now stands charged with the murder of a Chinese prostitute in 2003 in Deira.

A Dubai CID officer investigating the case said the defendant was involved in a traffic offence in Sharjah last June. His prints were selected by the database from hundreds at the scene of the murder. "He was racing in a street and was called in, his fingerprints were put into the system and then it flagged up," said the CID officer, who declined to reveal his name or rank. "When the murder happened in 2003 we discovered more than 1,000 different prints in the scene due to the victim's profession. We had to call in most of the prostitute's clients who matched our database then."

Omar al Mutawa, a police captain, told prosecutors that on June 21 he was informed by the Dubai Police forensics department that prints from the defendant entered in the federal system matched a person wanted in a murder case. "We recovered his mobile number in the system and his address," Capt al Mutawa said. The CID then made inquiries about the suspect and contacted him to present himself for questioning, saying he was the object of a sexual harassment complaint.

"We immediately investigated him and discovered that he has not engaged in soliciting prostitutes since the murder," the CID investigator said. "We told him that a woman claimed that he sexually harassed her. He immediately became defensive and denied any such act." A M was arrested and his case referred to the public prosecutor's office. The suspect appeared in court on October 27 and denied the murder charge, though he admitted to sleeping with the victim and to stealing her mobile phone. He has since been provided with a court-appointed lawyer.

The defendant now stands accused of murdering Zhu Li, who was in her forties. The seven-page charge sheet alleges that A M went with a friend to a brothel in Dubai's Naif district. The defendant allegedly agreed with the prostitute to have sex for Dh250. In his statement, A M said that he dozed off for an hour and found that Dh1,800 was missing when he awoke. A M told officers that he and the victim got into a heated argument over the money and that he slapped her. He said she hit him back, which infuriated him, so he then hit her with a telephone charger and cracked her head. He told investigators that he then fled the apartment.

Major Abbas al Baloushi of the Dubai Police told prosecutors that he was called to the scene of the crime in 2003 and that when he entered the flat he found the victim's body hidden under a mattress with her legs tied to the bed by a telephone charger cable. He said that the body was lying in a pool of blood. "We found a condom by the victim on the bed," he said. "Therefore we collected all the evidence in the case and transferred it to prosecutors."

Mohammed Azouz, a forensic scientist, told prosecutors that the cause of death was strangulation. In his testimony, he said the victim's neck had been broken and that she had visible marks and bruises on her body. The victim did not die because of the knock to the head, he said. Judge El Saeed Bargouth of the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance will preside over the next hearing on Sunday.