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Abu Dhabi Federal Supreme Court overturned the death sentence against the 54-year-old mechanic. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: A British man who was sentenced to death for allegedly selling drugs in Dubai will have a fresh hearing in the case.

Abu Dhabi Federal Supreme Court overturned the death sentence against the 54-year-old mechanic for selling two kg of heroin worth $30,000 (Dh110,340) to an undercover policeman in 2018. The court revoked the death sentence ruling and ordered a new panel of judges to hear the case again.

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He had been arrested after the Dubai police officer posed as a customer to buy the heroin. The policeman had earlier bought a few grams of the drug to test and confirm whether it was indeed heroin.

The British defendant claimed he was in need for money to buy a ticket to the United Kingdom as he was stranded in Oman. “I was stranded in Oman and called a friend back in the UK, asking to borrow money from him. But he told me to head to Dubai for a quick job in return for $1,000. So I took a bus to Dubai,” the defendant said on record.

He was contacted by his friend in the UK who told him a Pakistani man would meet and give him some pocket money and a package. His friend then informed him that another man [the drug buyer] would come to pick up the package from him. The defendant met the undercover policeman while the supplier stood nearby. Both men were arrested after the undercover policeman was handed the drugs.

“My friend in the UK used my financial situation and got me involved in the operation. This was my first time in the drug business,” the defendant said on record.

Two Iranian men were later arrested and were charged with smuggling the heroin into the country.

In May 2019, the Briton and the 45-year-old Pakistani man were sentenced to death by Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance for possessing drugs with the purpose of selling them. The other two men, aged 45 and 46, were cleared of the charge against them.

The British defendant’s legal consultant Hasan Elhais of Al Rowaad Advocates took the case to the appeals court, citing procedural errors, Elhais said in a statement. Elhais said invalid arrest procedure was one of the errors, while the other point of contention was that the verdict did not clarify if the panel of three judges at the Court of First Instance was unanimous in its verdict, which is mandatory in issuing the death penalty under ͵羺 laws.

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“The undercover policeman was a Pakistani national and his testimony was taken without the presence of a legal translator,” said Elhais. “Also, a panel of judges heard the case at the beginning, but then a different panel took over and issued the verdict, which is inconsistent with the law,” he added.

The court of appeal upheld the sentence in April this year, following which the case was heard by the Supreme Court, which cited failures in implementing the court procedures.

A date for fresh trial will be set later.