'Victim' died of overdose, appeal court is told

A Russian man appealing against a murder conviction tells the court his alleged victim died from a drug overdose.

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DUBAI // A Russian man challenging a 15-year prison sentence for murder told Dubai Appeal Court yesterday that his alleged victim had already died from a drug overdose when he found him in his apartment. SA, 25, was initially acquitted of the murder of AA by Dubai Court of First Instance, but the appeal court overturned the decision on Dec 21, sentencing him to 15 years. SA filed a fresh appeal earlier this year.

The public prosecutor accused him of taking drugs with AA, beating him unconscious and putting him - still alive - into a large travel bag which he then placed in the boot of the victim's own car. Police found the body in the vehicle at a public car park in Satwa in October 2007. Last September, Judge Fahmi Mounir handed down a not-guilty verdict, saying that doubt surrounded the exact cause of death.

SA's co-defendant, NJ, an Uzbek national, was also cleared of murder. They were both found guilty on a related drug abuse charge and received four-year jail sentences. The initial medical examiner's report said: "The most likely cause of death is suffocation due to being placed in a tight space with limited air to breathe and little room to move inside a sack which was securely fastened." hbathish@thenational.ae