UAE ruling family member acquitted in torture trial
Al Ain, January 10, 2010
A member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family was found innocent on Sunday of the torture and rape of an Afghan.
The judge reading the verdict at a court in the United Arab Emirates did not give a reason why Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was exonerated of responsibility for abuse shown in a video first made public on US network ABC last year.
ABC identified one of the people taking part in the abuse as Sheikh Issa.
But a lawyer for the sheikh, a son of UAE founder Sheikh Zayed, said his client was found to have 'diminished liability' because two former business associates had drugged him beforehand then taken the video to extort money from him.
The two men, Lebanese-American brothers Bassam and Ghassan Nabulsi, were sentenced to five years in absentia and fined Dh10,000 ($2,723) for what the judge said was drugging, recording and publishing a video, and blackmail.
The judge said the reasoning behind the verdicts would be published at a later date.
Sheikh Issa, who arrived in court with a large smile, kissed his lawyer on the head in thanks after sentencing was announced but made no comment.
The lawyer, Habib Al-Mulla, said the UAE had demonstrated its commitment to the rule of law.
'The fact that this trial is taking place is a sign that the UAE is showing that everyone in this country can be put in front of law and judged,' he said.
Mohammed Shahpoor, the Afghan grain trader abused in the video, showed no reaction when the verdicts were read out.
In the footage, which dates back to 2004, Shahpoor is seen struck with an electric cattle prod, beaten with whips and a plank of wood with a nail in it, and driven over by a car at a desert location near the oasis of Al-Ain.
A Nepalese security guard shown in the video was also acquitted but a Syrian national was given one year in jail for beating Shahpoor and an Indian and a Palestinian were both sentenced to three years for sodomising him with a stick. - Reuters