Dubai: Two Dubai Customs inspectors have been accused of accepting Dh120,000 in bribes from three men to smuggle consignments of sheep, including ones infected with contagious diseases, illegally to the UAE.
The Emirati inspectors were said to have accepted kickbacks from the three Omani men on different occasions to dodge the usual customs procedures and inspections, and allow them to drive more than 22 consignments of sheep in an illegal manner on and before August 2016.
The Omanis were said to be driving a refrigerated truck meant for fish, according to records, when a Customs corporal realised that they handed some papers to one of the inspectors and kept driving into the UAE through one of the land border checkpoints that month.
The corporal contacted a senior officer and notified him, according to records, that the refrigerated truck continued driving and did not stop.
The truck that was supposedly loaded with fish [as it read from the outside] was stopped three kilometres away from the checkpoint.
Customs officials discovered that the truck was loaded with sheep that were smuggled into the country in an illegal manner.
When the officials confronted the Omanis that they had bypassed the ordinary customs procedures, the three men claimed that they had prearranged the move with one of the Emirati inspectors.
Primary interrogations revealed that the three Omanis had been paying money to the inspectors for some time to drive the sheep consignments into the UAE.
Prosecutors accused the two Emiratis of accepting bribes from the Omanis to allow them to smuggle sheep by helping them escape the usual procedures and bring the sheep into the market illegally.
Prosecutors also accused the Omani trio of bribing customs officials and bringing 23 consignments of sheep into the local market illegally.
The five suspects pleaded not guilty and refuted their accusations when they appeared before the Dubai Court of First Instance on Wednesday.
A customs inspection officer testified to prosecutors that the Omani were stopped in the UAE while driving a truck loaded with 250 sheep.
“A corporal informed me over the phone that he spotted one of the suspected inspectors taking some papers from the truck driver and allowing him to continue driving without inspecting the content of the consignment. We chased the truck that had reached the checkpoint at 7am because it was too fishy and strange for a truck that was said to be loaded with fish to arrive that late … usually the last truck loaded with fish crosses the boarder point at 3am, at the maximum. The truck turned out to be loaded with sheep. When we asked the Omani for their papers and why they had dodged the usual procedures, they asked us to discuss the matter with one of the Emirati suspects. We asked the Omanis for their personal papers. Further interrogations with the Omanis revealed that they had been dealing with the Emirati suspects for a long period. They claimed that they used to pay them money to allow them to smuggle the sheep into Dubai. One of them alleged that they had paid up to Dh1.5 million to smuggle nearly 77 consignments. The suspects were referred to the police,” the inspection officer claimed to prosecutors.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the five suspects firmly refuted all accusations before presiding judge Fahd Al Shamsi.
The trial reconvenes next month.