Dubai: Prosecutors won their appeal against a construction worker, who will now serve a life sentence instead of a 15-year jail term handed to him earlier for strangling his co-worker to death with a turban after the victim failed to “cure his bewitched wife”.
The wife of the 22-year-old Indian worker had attempted suicide and when he discussed the issue with his co-worker (victim), the latter suggested that he might be able to save her by magic as she could be bewitched.
The defendant paid Dh350 to the victim to ‘cure’ his wife but, when he failed to follow up on his claim, the two got into altercations and had rows on more than one occasion. In January 2016, the defendant strangled his co-worker to death with his turban.
In March, the Dubai Court of First Instance jailed the defendant for 15 years for premeditatedly killing his countryman at the labour accommodation in Al Ghusais. He was also handed three months in jail for stealing Dh200 from his co-worker.
The defendant appealed the primary judgement before the Appeal Court seeking leniency.
Prosecutors also sought a tougher punishment before the appellate court.
On Sunday, presiding judge Eisa Al Sharif rejected the defendant’s appeal and accepted that of the prosecutors.
The 15-year jail term was increased to a life sentence, according to presiding judge Al Sharif, who also upheld the defendant’s three-month imprisonment for stealing.
The accused will be deported following the completion of his punishment.
The defendant had pleaded not guilty and denied murdering his co-worker.
“We fought, but I had no intention to kill him. I was under severe emotional pressure due to what had happened to my wife. I was not in a normal state of mind… we fought and I beat him and I stole his money,” the accused contended in court.
The Indian security guard at the labour accommodation alerted police after discovering the corpse. “When I opened the room door, I spotted the victim’s body with his face down on the bed and his hands tied with a blue turban behind his back. I informed the police promptly,” he said.
A major in the police force testified that police were informed about the murder at 7.45am. “We rushed to the location and discovered that the incident had happened inside a room that the accused, the victim and a third person shared. We questioned the third person, who claimed that he left for work at 4.45am and the other two men had been inside; he said he knew nothing about the crime. The defendant was arrested a day later and claimed that his wife fell very ill and tried to burn herself in a suicide attempt. The defendant said the deceased convinced him that his wife must have been bewitched and offered to cure her by magic for Dh350. The accused said the victim handed him a cloth filled with an ash-like substance for his wife to drink with water. When the purported magic failed to cure his wife, according to the defendant’s statement, his relationship with the victim deteriorated and they constantly quarrelled. He said that, on the day of the incident, the victim belittled him and they fought before he strangled him,” the major testified.
Sunday’s ruling remains subject to appeal before the Cassation Court within 30 days.