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A strong message from Dubai Police on driver assault case

If this assault case goes to court, the prosecution’s case will hinge on a crucial piece of evidence — a video shot illegally by a passerby

  • By Bobby Naqvi, Editor, XPRESS
  • Published: 23:34 July 17, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • A screengrab from the YouTube video that shows a government official beating a driver using his Ghutra.

Dubai: The Dubai Police this week sent out a strong, unequivocal message that no one is above the law when they arrested an Emirati for assaulting an Indian driver in full public view.

The suspect, believed to be a high-ranking government officer, may face trial in the misdemeanour court if the prosecution decides to press charges under Article 339 of the Penal Code.

All this happened after the police took cognizance of a minute-and-a-half video depicting the assault. The video went viral on social network sites on Monday, triggering outrage among Emiratis and expatriates alike. Dubai Police’s Twitter account was inundated with messages, catching the attention of Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other prominent Emiratis.

The video, first posted on YouTube on Monday evening, showed the suspect repeatedly beating the van driver of a stationery company with his agal, a black cord worn by Arabs. The Emirati also punched him and disregarded intervention by a passerby who apparently asked him to stop, the video showed. At one point the suspect dropped his agal and the Indian man picked it up from the ground and gave it back to the suspect, who resumed the beatings and punches.

The next day, Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police, announced the Emirati government officer’s arrest. Stating that “no one is above the law”, while condemning the assault as “inappropriate”, Al Mazeina said the case would be handed over to the public prosecution.

The video went viral on YouTube, WhatsApp and Live Leak and was shared by both Indian expatriates and Emiratis, dominating discussions in offices and homes throughout Tuesday. Some Emiratis quoted in media reports strongly condemned the assault and said the suspect brought disrepute to the community during the holy month of Ramadan.

There has been little public reaction from the Indian expatriate community, but those who saw the video privately expressed outrage. Many are giving a racist slant to the incident: a powerful kandoura-wearing Emirati assaulting a poor Indian expatriate. They point out that the Emirati was driving an expensive SUV with a three-digit registration number-plate. But several others stress that this is a simple case of road rage -– one driver assaulting another over a minor traffic dispute.

It was indeed an incident of road rage and those who brand it as the case of a citizen of a host nation assaulting a poor migrant worker would be stretching it too far. The Indian van driver was running away after clipping the Emirati’s car. The suspect then chased him and stopped his van before assaulting him. Both broke the law: the Indian who did not stop after the minor accident (it is illegal in the UAE to run away after an accident) and the Emirati who took the law into his own hands.

The prosecution will investigate the incident and decide if the case merits a court trial. The Indian driver has apparently declined to lodge a complaint, but the prosecution can take cognizance of the evidence and proceed with a trial. However, the evidence itself may come under legal scrutiny. The video was discreetly taken by a passerby who posted it on social networking websites. Under UAE cyber laws, it is illegal to take videos of people and posting them on websites. The Emirati’s family has lodged a police complaint against the person who took the video. The original video was taken down on Tuesday afternoon, but it re-emerged on several websites.

It is a unique case where the suspect, the victim and the eyewitness all broke the law. Should this assault case go to court, the prosecution’s case will hinge on a crucial piece of evidence — a video that was shot illegally.

 

Do write back on what you think about this issue at editor@xpress4me.com

Comments (17)

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  1. Added 12:28 July 18, 2013

    Very good example, as usual, of UAE Government and People that no one is above law. They really mean it when they say something. It is good awareness but needs some precautions by non locals too. If something goes wrong from non local, he should be polite and should not act to provoke/insult someone. Locals should also consider the hard days work of the worker class, Their work pressure which sometimes leads to lack of concentration and cause abnormal behavior. God loves forgiveness. Social media should be responsible communicating such things to avoid infringing on the privacy/self respect of someone. It could be sent to police directly instead of circulating it on the net. Everybody knows UAE police always take action fairly and appropriately. Anyway Ramadan kareem.

    Khan, Makkah Al Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia

  2. Added 11:43 July 18, 2013

    Please its my humble request to authorities - do not arrest the passerby who captured the video. He made us aware otherwise we would never know what really happened. The passerby helped authorities to get the suspect. Actually he captured a CRIME.

    Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 11:26 July 18, 2013

    The family should have simply apologized for the beating of the poor truck driver. Instead, they chose to file a case against the person who made the video. Unfortunately, the world is now also watching the arrest of the filmer and not only looking at the video!

    Louie Tedesco, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 10:20 July 18, 2013

    I respect the police's swift action in arresting and charging the person who assaulted the driver. i am curious to think if this action would have been taken as quickly if the public had not voiced their opinion? why is the bystander who is shedding light on a crime being dragged for his honesty? As a community we have to accept the good and bad of the society we live in and thus should not implicate those who voice concern and ask for help. it is worth noting the patience and kindness of the indian driver who didnt fight back nor complained to the authorities. Our society will only get better and hospitable when we hold everyone accountable for their actions as they are all same. God bless the UAE.

    farida, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 10:19 July 18, 2013

    It makes one quite angry when someone hits your car and then tries to run away. The driver must have not ran away while the Emirati should have waited for the police after stopping his van. The root cause for this incident is the van driver himself.

    Khan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 10:02 July 18, 2013

    It is a unique case but many cases like this go unreported. Agreed that video taking might be an illegal act but that does not make the violent act worthy of being forgiven. The video should be taken as an evidence and action needs to be taken on the person at fault to actually prove that LAW STANDS ABOVE ALL.

    Indian, Dubai, India

  7. Added 09:56 July 18, 2013

    I admire the equality of the Dubai police and government. Even though that was a high ranking official and a local resident in the country.I also dont like the fact that the driver attempted to run after clipping the vehicle of the Emirati. My advice to the one who took the video - better show it directly to police rather than sharing it to everybody. you should know the law in this country. Ramadan Kareem to all.

    struck, CEBU, Philippines

  8. Added 09:52 July 18, 2013

    It may be a unique case here, but not in other parts of the world. we, expats have seen many of videos like this in different platforms and it had been used to expose wrongdoing of people (corruption, human rights abuses, etc).

    jayzee, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 09:44 July 18, 2013

    Hope justice prevails. In every country the law is above the citizens,Want to see the outcome of the case. I think because of the involvement of the public he is in detention.....

    John, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 09:39 July 18, 2013

    I do have high respect for the law of the land in UAE as well as its very efficient police force especially Dubai but I wonder if someone is doing something against the law why would it be illegal to take a video of the incident which can be used as an evidence in a police investigation. I hope I am wrong and if someone can explain to me why it becomes against the law will be highly appreciated.

    paul, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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