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ABU DHABI: Acquittal of prince's brother in UAE torture case met with Arab outrage

"An abortion of justice," "the peak of farce and a mockery of humanity," and "unconvincing and clearly fabricated."

Those are just some of the words of outrage used by Arab commentators to describe an United Arab Emirates court decision to acquit Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al Nahyan of torture and rape charges a graphic videotape of Issa abusing an Afghan merchant surfaced last year.

Al Ain Criminal Court ruled Sunday that Sheikh Issa, a brother of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nanyan, "cannot be held accountable for his actions because he was drugged" by former associates Bassam and Ghassan Nabulsi. 

The court did not dispute the fact that Issa is among those depicted in the tape torturing the Afghan with cattle prods and at one point running him over repeatedly with a sport-utility vehicle.

As of Monday afternoon, over 200 comments had been posted on Al Jazeera's story about the acquittal, almost all of them scathing invectives against the court's ruling, the royal family and the Emirates' justice system.

Uae-torture "The injustice is obvious, the attack on the weak is obvious, and all the criminal can do when faced with his guilt is claim insanity from drugs and alcohol," wrote "Emirati and Proud" from Abu Dhabi. "We live in the 21st century, the information age, and the world has become a village, yet there are still those among us who...look on us as ignorant people who are easily tricked..."

Nabil in Tunisia called for Issa to be brought before an international criminal court.

Mohammad Amer in Holland asked sarcastically, "Can't you people see that the drug forced open his mouth and made him drink it, and the stick is the one that was doing the hitting, not the hand of the nobleman's son?"

The "nobleman's son" refers to a famous story about how the Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab doled out justice to those who abused their power.

The story goes that one day a poor Egyptian Christian came to Omar and complained that the governor's son had become angry after losing a horse race to the Egyptian and beat him, shouting: "I am a nobleman's son!"

After summoning the offender, Omar handed the Egyptian a whip and told him to flog the nobleman's son, then chastised the governor for treating his people as slaves.

A few commentators stepped forward to defend the ruling.

Abu Abdullah Mohammad Mahmoud wrote, "I have lived in this country for 25 years and never seen the kind of injustice and contempt depicted in this fake tape. This is a conspiracy to tarnish the image of Sheikh Issa -- God protect him -- and the image of this great country."

But the author of the popular blog "An Emirati's Thoughts: the Sheikh of Controversy," was vehemently opposed to the ruling. 

He posted an excerpt from a BBC report quoting Issa's lawyer, Habib al-Mulla, saying the trial was "a sign that the UAE is showing that everyone in this country can be put in front of law and judged."

"Mr. Al-Mulla," Emirati wrote in response, "lying mercenaries such as yourself will rot in hell."

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: A screen shot from the videotape. Credit: ABC News via YouTube

Comments () | Archives (5)

Somehow, 35 white Europeans working for Mossad are nowhere to be found.

From Dr. Salee Amina Mohammed: I have read the article about Sheikh Issa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, of the royal family of Abu Dhabi. As I was not present at any trial of Sheikh Issa, nor able to examine any evidence, I am not writing to either condomn nor protect the person or the actions allegedly depicted in the video tape, which appeared to represent inhumane acts on another human being, allegedly perpetrated by Sheikh Issa. I would like, however, to make a couple of relevant statements, as well as to correct a statement made by a previous commentator. The comment with which I have concern is that of someone who refered to the Sheikh issa event, defining all of the sons of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan as "effeminate." In my life, I have had the privilege of knowing h.H. Sheikh Zayed and many of his family, including several of his sons. I did not know Sheikh Issa Bin Zayed whatsoever, and had never met him. I also had never met H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, who was always described to me as very hard working. However, of the several sons of Sheikh Zayed and their wives who I did know, some of whom I knew very well, I saw no demonstration of "effeminate" charicteristics of any type in those sons. Also, I saw in them characteristics which were, in general, extremely admirable. I developed a lot of respect for them, due to what I often saw to be very noble and honorable conduct. True, I did not know every possible thing about every son of Sheikh Zayed, but I think it is highly irresponsible for the commentator to label all of Sheikh Zayed's sons as "effeminate." Additionally, I would like to comment on the fact that I have considerable experience in matters relevant to the legal process in America, and for those who criticize the fact that Sheikh Issa was acquitted at trial in his country, they might consider the fact that during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, a rioter was caught on video tape apparently mercilessly beating an innocent truck driver in the head with a brick, repeatedly, after pulling him from his truck, while he simply was stopped at an intersection. The rioter was acquitted. Often, when acts of violence and crimes of passion are examined by judges and juries, several mitigating circumstances are considered. In the case of Sheikh Issa, his claim of having been drugged (and therefore not in a responsible state of mind) is not dissimilar to the claims of many who are prosecuted in American courts, and who are acquitted by means of temporary insanity or who are deemed to have been overcome by emotion and passion, while not in their right mind at the moment of the crime. The U.S. Courts are full of such cases. I must ask why people seem to be so quick to condemn people of foreign countries, while turning a blind eye to similar circumstances in their own countries. I also wonder what other things about Sheikh Issa or about the alleged perpetrators of the fraud against him or about other pertinent matters of the incident may have been factored into the judicial decision. People seem so quick to judge, without having all of the information. I can say, with absolute certainty, that I personally know of many cases in courts in the U.S. in which some of the most atrocious actions have been perpetrated upon innocent victims by police, prosecutors, government employees and people who have money, power and influence. How many of them get convicted? Almost none. And, when they are convicted, how many actually end up serving out their sentences. Very few. In fact, hardly ever are they even prosecuted, no less convicted; and when they are convicted, intervention allows for their sentences to be suspended oror considerably reduced; or, they serve out their punishment in a white collar prison, which is rather like a Holiday Inn hotel. Why then would it be so odd and intolerable that a member of a ruling family of the government of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates would be acquited in an Abu Dhabi U.A.E. Court? Would it not be the same under similar circumstances in most any country, including America. In the U.S.A., our own former first lady, Laura Bush, wife of the former George Bush, had previously committed an act of running a red light and slamming into an innocent driver of a vehicle, killing him. Yet, she was never jailed for it, while a poor woman, without position, money and influence, would likely still be sitting in prison for felony manslaughter. Such is the life of the rich and the royals and anyone with power, money or influence. It is the same all over the world. People in glass houses should not throw stones.

The now deceased zayed al nahyan was a pragmatic ruler but unfortunately all his effiminate sons philanderers. The behavior of Isssa is typical of these rich bedouns but this guy is totally animal. He should not. Be acquitted but put in cage where people are allowed to spit and pee on him!!!

shame on you,
pige shaikh

This is typical. I am the process server who served Sheikh Issa last year in Dubai. I know first-hand about the deceit and illegal actions taken by officials in the Emirates government. It is corrupt and those living there should be aware of their tactics.


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