Image Credit: Courtesy: ADJD

Abu Dhabi: The judicial departments of the emirate of Abu Dhabi have witnessed a few landmark court judgements in 2017. The most prominent cases were the conviction of the killer of a Pakistani boy, the jailing of Emiratis for 13 years in a multibillion fraud case and the commutation of death sentences of 10 Indians.

The rape and strangling of an 11-year-old boy by his uncle in the holy month of Ramadan shook the entire nation and sent shock waves among parents about the safety and security of their children when they step out of their houses. The accused was also fined Dh200,000.

However the harshest penalty of capital punishment handed to the criminal by the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance restored the confidence of parents in the judiciary and sent a strong signal that no criminal could get away with committing crimes.

The boy, Azan Majid Janjua, was raped and murdered on his building’s rooftop in May. The accused, who was termed by the Public Prosecution as “a wild beast”, is identified as Mohsen Bilal, 34, from Pakistan.

The Presiding Judge of the Criminal Court, Aktham Abdul Mounem, in his judgement said, “Mohsen Bilal was found guilty on accounts of his crimes of raping and killing and the court awards him the death penalty and a blood money [payment] of Dh200,000.”

The boy went missing in May after he left his house to go to the mosque for Asr prayers but he never reached home. His body was found next morning on the rooftop of the building where he and his family lived.

However, the defence still has the right to approach the appeal court.

In the notorious case of a Dh1.6-billion fraud, Abu Dhabi Court of Misdemeanours again set an example sentencing the convicts, who are Emirati, to more than 13 years behind bars for exploiting people’s money, cheating, fraud and money laundering.

The court sentenced three citizens to jail for more than 13 years after they were found guilty of money laundering and unlawful activities in the car sales fraud and money laundering case that involved 54 people, mostly Emiratis.

Almost half of them were not found guilty while the remaining accused received up to one year jail terms or minor penalties.

The court ordered the freezing of the bank accounts of the main three criminals inside and outside the country and penalised them up to Dh500,000.

A.M. was sentenced to 13 years in jail, including 10 years for money laundering and three years for cheating people. The court also fined him Dh500,000. Another Emirati, also A.M., was sentenced to a three-year prison term for fraudulent activities and fined Dh500,000.

The presiding judge said pieces of evidence, witnesses, bank transactions and documents established that the defendants were engaged in unlawful trading activities without proper licensing and contracts and money laundering.

Fraudsters scammed up to 3,700 people of more than Dh1.6 billion. Eight of the suspects were caught with the help of the Interpol.

They were sentenced in November but they can still appeal.

In another case of murder, the death sentences of 10 Indian convicts were commuted to prison terms in May with the help of an Indian charitable trust after the family pardoned them.

They were convicted of killing a Pakistani man in 2015 in Al Ain.

An Indian charity organisation, Sarbat Da Bhala Charitable Trust, had deposited the blood money in the court on behalf of the accused.

Following the initial verdict, the victim’s father appeared at the Court of Appeals in March 2017 and submitted a letter of consent to pardon the defendants.

What to expect in 2018

Special centres to handle drug cases

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Judicial Department will open new special centres to handle narcotic cases in the emirate in 2018.

Increasing drug addiction and sale among students is a major concern of Abu Dhabi courts.

Counsellor Mohammad Rashid Al Danhani, First Chief Prosecutor at Baniyas Prosecution of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, said: “Hopefully, the new centres will be opened next year [2018]. These will be set up within the premises of the Judicial Department of Abu Dhabi.”

He said there are plans to introduce a new legislation to amend the anti-narcotics laws to protect the youth.

According to statistics, the first instance courts gave jail terms in 55.16 per cent of drug cases in 2015-2016, while the rate of conviction dropped to 47.76 per cent cases in 2016-2017. Fines were imposed in 41.52 per cent of drug cases in 2015-2016 and 46.41 per cent in 2016-2017.

Women prosecutors play a vital role in investigation and Abu Dhabi courts look forward to recruit more women particularly in the family prosecution department in 2018.

Currently, 11 women judges are working in Abu Dhabi courts while the other sections of the department have 592 women.

Such a visible presence of women results in a host of positive outcomes as during criminal investigation, family disputes and children’s cases, female prosecutors play an invaluable role in gathering information as well as leading to reconciliation among warring parties.

Ateqa Al Khateri, director of Family Prosecution of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, told Gulf News, “Women officers are particularly required in most of the specialised cases pertaining to women and children.”

In numbers

11 judges

592 female staff at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department including in Al Ain and Al Dhafra

62 women occupy leading positions

17 members in judicial authority

7 assistance counsellors and lawyers

7 administrative directors

29 directors of sections