UAE | Crime

Dubai court gets first Facebook libel case

This is believed to be the first court hearing, which involves suspects abusing Facebook for unlawful acts, to be highlighted in the media.

  • By Bassam Za'za', Senior Reporter, Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 November 18, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • The 26-year-old Syrian partner admitted that he uploaded several pictures on Facebook of the Lebanese claimant and posted libellous comments below them.

Dubai:  A business partner has admitted cursing and defaming his former employee on Facebook during the first-of-its-kind trial involving the worldwide electronic social networking tool.

This is believed to be the first court hearing, which involves suspects abusing Facebook for unlawful acts, to be highlighted in the media.

The 26-year-old Syrian partner admitted before the Dubai Misdemeanours Court yesterday that he uploaded several pictures on Facebook of the Lebanese claimant and posted under each of them a libellous comment.

Provoked

"I am guilty and I did defame him because he provoked me," the partner, A.A. admitted, when he defended himself before Presiding Judge Ebrahim Khalil Abu Shamma in courtroom seven.

Prosecutors charged the defendant with cursing and dishonouring the claimant, A.R., on Facebook by posting slanderous comments under his pictures. When the judge confronted the suspect with the charges, the defendant said: "Your Honour, please let me explain what happened. I had a partnership with his brother in a restaurant … later I discovered that he was stealing the money from the cashier. He also used to inform customers that the restaurant had been sold and that I had nothing to do with the restaurant anymore. His behaviour provoked me and that's why I posted the comments on Facebook …"

The judge intervened and ordered the suspect to stop talking and let his lawyer mention what he had said in a written defence.

Gulf News learnt on Tuesday that the defendant's alleged slanderous comments under four photos posted on Facebook read: "Hey man look at all the people, imagine how much we're gonna steal. [A name which Gulf News won't publish] with the thieves. The man who robbed us of Dh1.4 million to open his own restaurant. A.R. here seen plotting, looking stupid, but plotting."

Records said the defendant pleaded guilty before the prosecutor who questioned him.

"The claimant worked for us as the restaurant's manager. One day, Dubai police's Combating E-crime Section summoned me for questioning. I was informed that A.R. complained against me and claimed that I slandered him on Facebook. I escorted a police patrol to my house from where they confiscated my laptop and took it for examination. We have an ongoing financial dispute between us at Dubai courts … I did libel him because he agonised me," said the defendant in his statement to prosecutors.

Records said the Lebanese reported to the police that A.A. slandered him on Facebook. "He uploaded my photos and published slanderous and dishonourable comments underneath them on Facebook," the claimant told the police.

The judge adjourned the case until A.A.'s lawyer presents his defence.

Share your views

Do you think Facebook abuse is rampant? Are you a victim of cyber stalking, bullying or abuse on Facebook or other social networking sites? Do you know of similar incidents?

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Comments (29)

  1. Added 23:32 November 18, 2009

    don't blame facebook, blame these social psychopaths if they enjoy wrecking other peoples lives. but what if some comments are true? then we don't have the right to be upset, after all we are all responsible of our own actions. i am a victim of cyber bullying and i was devastated because i lost a person that meant so much to me and changed my life completely.

    joy, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 22:35 November 18, 2009

    I think a small amount of fine and an apology on Facebook would be pretty much enough of punishment...but no more

    Glasszone, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 19:30 November 18, 2009

    this has nothin to do with facebook...cuz facebook does not write all this.its the peoplewho do all this stuff...

    Nehan, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 18:18 November 18, 2009

    Facebook is not the problem. If someone wants to cause harm to another, he will find a way. Libel, slander, etc. all existed before Facebook and it will continue whether Facebook exists or not.

    Anna, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 18:01 November 18, 2009

    it was rreally very sad to read about the abuse of facebook. facebook is the site where we can connect to our friends and relatives and share our pictures and videos to minimize the distance barrier between our loved ones.there are certain group of people who really take advantage of every good facility and we cannot stop them. the best thing we can do is make ur profile strictly private and accessible to only our close ones. so that such cases can be over come. Thanks God such kind of acts has never done with me or my known ones till yet .

    Benish Yasir, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 16:52 November 18, 2009

    This is totally nonsense there nothing abusing on face book. It the place where you can express your views argument may pass from both side they can be harsh but that doesnt mean its abusing. Is some one remebering any aurgument when you wake up next day...? I disagree with this whole issue....

    Tauseef, Lahore, Pakistan

  7. Added 16:22 November 18, 2009

    Absolutely ridiculous what I am hearing! If you don't like social networking sites then simply DON'T USE THEM. Why ban them for everyone else to enjoy using them? There are many advantages to social networking sites (facebook, linkedin, ASW, etc.) as you are able connect with people from all over the world who share similar interests as you---not only for broadening your relationships but also for promoting business and finding jobs. Those of us who are far away from our homes are able to better keep in touch with are friends and family and keep in touch with what is happening in their lives. Also, there are actually privacy controls which allow you to show as little or as much as you wish to the Worldwide internet. You can also choose to ignore or block certain individuals who continue to add you as friends whom you don't know. I think something else that needs to be brought up is the fact that if someone chooses to upload photos or post comments about somebody on their facebook and it isn't shown to the whole world---only to their select group of friends---it shouldn't be considered slander in public because it isn't meant for the public, only their select group of friends.

    Isabell Brunsteen, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 15:04 November 18, 2009

    Facebook, even though it is a personal networking site, is open to millions of people. Whatever you put on the Internet would somehow be read by people as they get passed from one person to another quickly. A person should always think twice on what to put on Facebook. As an advice, never put anything that is work-related or anything that would insult somebody. Yes, we are entitled to our own opinions, but many cultures and people are not open to criticisms, jokes and sharing of personal views.

    Quay, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 14:59 November 18, 2009

    All these incidents wouldnt have taken place if the person blocked the other one from his account while seeing such comments on pictures. The whole act would have stopped there itself. There are networking sites which are not privacy protected, where the whole contact of a user can be seen to the public, but facebook is quiet protected & advanced when compared to other networking sites.

    Sanish Cherian, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 14:37 November 18, 2009

    Facebook is not the problem. If someone wants to cause harm to another, he will find a way. Libel, slander, etc. all existed before Facebook and it will continue whether Facebook exist or not.

    Anna, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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