Dubai: A passenger won his appeal and was acquitted after his lawyer convinced a court that his client was carrying cannabis seeds as medicine for his sick wife in Austria.
In February, the Dubai Court of First Instance jailed the 34-year-old Austrian passenger for 10 years and fined him Dh100,000 for transporting via Dubai in transit around 960gm of cannabis seeds.
Law enforcement officers stopped the 34-year-old passenger when they found the illegal substance hidden in his luggage at the Dubai International Airport’s transit section shortly after he had arrived from Afghanistan in December.
The Austrian appealed his 10-year imprisonment before the Dubai Appeal Court where he pleaded not guilty and contended that he did not have any criminal intent.
Upon entering his plea, he told the appellate court that he was not aware that carrying the cannabis seeds via Dubai in transit was against the law.
His lawyer, Faisal Al Zarouni, defended that his client possessed the substance for medical purposes and did not have any intention bring them into Dubai.
“My client recently obtained the Austrian citizenship and passport under the political refugees’ programme … his wife cannot leave Austria and had to stay there for a permanent period of time to be able to obtain the passport. She is sick and suffers from different neural diseases and requires medication … when her husband travelled to Afghanistan to visit his mother, he purchased the seeds as medicine for her. On his way back, he had to transit through Dubai and did not have the intention to stay here. Hence, he did not bring the substance to smuggle them into Dubai,” contended Al Zarouni.
The lawyer further provided the appellate court with medical reports confirming that his client’s wife is sick and constantly consumes those seeds for medication.
“We ask the court to overturn the suspect’s imprisonment and fine … he did not have any criminal intent. Besides, those seeds are sold openly in pharmacies in Afghanistan and Austria,” contended advocate Al Zarouni.
The presiding judge thereafter overturned the primary ruling and acquitted the passenger of any wrongdoing citing lack of criminal intent.
The appellate ruling remains subject to appeal before the Cassation Court.