Dubai: A Public Prosecution employee has been accused of accepting more than Dh154,000 in bribes to access and change 103 rulings in absentia stored in the department’s internal classified filing system.
In a case that is said to be the first of its kind in the UAE, the 21-year-old Emirati employee, who worked at Public Prosecution’s Criminal Rulings Execution Section, took between Dh1,000 and Dh1,500 in bribes from six other suspects to access the 103 rulings in absentia and had them changed to lenient punishments.
Following nearly a 15-month investigation that was held by Chief Prosecutor Salem Bin Khadem, the employee was accused of abusing his authority at the Section, accepting bribes from others, accessing the internal classified filing system and changing the contents of judgements that judges handed out in absentia against defendants between January 2015 and March 2016.
According to the accusation sheet, prosecutors accused three Indian paralegals, who worked for local law firms, a Jordanian employee, who worked at the Public Prosecution’s bailing section, a Yemeni inspector at a government department, and two Indian suspects, who remain at large, of aiding and abetting the 21-year-old suspect.
Prosecution records said the main suspect [Emirati] took bribes of different amounts from the other suspects to access the minutes of hearings [in the internal classified filing system] and changed the content of rulings in absentia that were handed by court judges.
The Emirati suspect, thereafter, would print out a form with a newer content [changed ruling] to confirm in the filing system that the pertinent ruling had been executed.
According to prosecutors’ investigations, the suspect changed 103 rulings of criminal cases against convicts involved in those cases between January 2015 and March 2016.
The rulings in absentia that were found to have been electronically changed [through the filing system] were all handed out by the Courts of Misdemeanours, Appeal and Residency.
The 21-year-old employee committed an electronic forgery, according to prosecution records, when he accessed the rulings in absentia and changed them so that he could print out an official paper confirming that the aforementioned ruling had been executed to hand it over to the other suspects.
Based on those printouts, the other accomplices would obtain newer papers [officials documents] mentioning that the arrest and search warrants [that are usually issued against defendants sentenced in absentia] had been cancelled [based on the altered rulings], said records.
In one of the altered rulings, the 21-year-old suspect took bribe to replace a six-month imprisonment against a defendant, who was signed a bounce cheque, by a Dh10,000 fine.
In another altered ruling, the suspect also took bribe to change a six-month imprisonment and deportation order against a defendant to Dh2,000 fine.
In another example of the altered rulings, the 21-year-old took bribe to change a Dh200,000 fine to Dh10,000.
Five of the suspects, who stood trial before the Dubai Court of First Instance on Thursday, pleaded not guilty. They refuted all their accusations.
Two Indian suspects remain at large and police are still searching for them.
Presiding judge Urfan Omar adjourned the case until June 19.