25 on trial for Dubai jail abuse.
On the first day of trial on Sunday before the Dubai Criminal Courts, they denied charges of assault, assault leading to permanent injury, abuse of authority and criminal involvement.
The charges were filed following an investigation by Dubai Police about abuse of inmates at the Dubai Central Prison on August 1, 2007. The jail is located near Al Aweer. The defendants include four senior officers, five corporals and 16 guards. Five prison guards also stand accused of assaulting and permanently disabling a 41-year-old Armenian prisoner.
The prosecution documents contain allegations that the officers beat the Armenian to the point that he suffered spinal injuries and needed surgery at the Rashid Hospital.
According to the prosecution's report, one prison guard who was also an anti-narcotics agent 'brutally and sadistically" assaulted prisoners.
The senior officers were charged with conspiracy and abuse of power.
In his testimony to the prosecution, the Armenian inmate, Samuel C. stated that he awoke to noise and screams and was then removed out of his cell by members of the anti-riot police and prison guards.
He told the prosecution that he was punched and kicked by five guards who asked him to stand up and when he was not able, they continued to beat him more.
According to prosecution records, 18 prisoners testified against the officers, including Herbert Tatham, the Canadian UN worker who was jailed at the time for possession of narcotics.
Tatham in his testimony said that on August 1, the door to his cell opened and masked men with dogs pulled him out and struck him with batons. He claimed that as he was closer to the courtyard door he was kicked even harder by guard to move quicker, until he was clear outside.
Investigating officer Major Saif Al Mazroui, who was assigned by Dubai Police to investigate the assault on the Armenian prisoner, said prison authorities told him that Samuel C. sustained spinal injuries from falling down the stairs.
Al Mazroui then stated that he collected all the video surveillance tapes and discovered the brutal treatment of the inmates at the Central Jail, especially on August 1 when the majority of the incidents of assaults happened.
Presiding Judge Fahmy Mounir Fahmy postponed the case to next week for the defence counsel to present its argument to the court. All the defendants are out on bail.
According to the prosecution, the defendants also face a military court marshal if found guilty.
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