Al Ain: A member of the United Arab Emirates ruling family being tried in connection with the videotaped beating of an Afghan man was cleared of all charges on Sunday.
Presiding judge Sheikh Mubarak al-Awad pronounced Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan "innocent" of all charges in a UAE criminal court in the oasis city of Al Ain.
The case has drawn intense scrutiny not only because Sheikh Issa is half brother of the Emirati president, but also because the graphic beating was videotaped.
The tape surfaced last year in a US lawsuit by Issa's former business associate, Texas businessman Bassam Nabulsi. He is suing Issa for millions of dollars he claimed he was owed for various business deals.
The tape shows a suspect, identified as Issa, viciously beating a man said to be the Afghan worker in an empty stretch of the desert. The defense alleged Nabulsi had the torture filmed in order to blackmail Issa. The victim, identified as Afghani grain dealer Mohammed Shapoor, survived the beatings.
The defense argued that Sheikh Issa was left disoriented and impaired by a combination of dozens of drugs, including medicine for heart and back conditions. The list of drugs was submitted to the court, but not made public.
Last month, a forensics expert put on the stand by the defense testified that the mixture of drugs could cause "anger, suicidal tendencies, depression, aggression and loss of memory."
Had he been found guilty on all charges, Issa faced a maximum of three years in prison.
Al-Awad, the presiding judge on a three-judge panel, gave no explanation for the ruling, other than a reference to "diminished liability" on Sheikh Issa's part, apparently a reference to his impaired state.
First Published: Sunday, January 10, 2010, 23:01