UAE sentences five Asians to death
Tue, Jun 08, 2010

DUBAI - An Abu Dhabi court sentenced five Asians to death in two separate cases after they were convicted of trafficking heroin, The National newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Three Afghans and a Pakistani were charged with trafficking 16 kilogrammes of heroin which they were caught trying to sell to undercover agents earlier this month, the English-language daily said.

The Pakistani and an Afghan were arrested on June 2 after they were caught on camera delivering the drugs to a hotel room in Abu Dhabi.

"The two claimed they did not know the package they were hired to deliver to a hotel room contained drugs," The National said.

But court officials cited by the paper said a seven-minute video of the two men at the room showed one of the defendants, NA, "speaking on the phone, then picking a plastic bag from a cardboard box and tasting the drugs.

"A urine test showed NA had traces of morphine in his body." No traces of drugs were found in the other defendant's blood.

The remaining two Afghans implicated in the case, and identified as MZS and SAK, were tried in absentia after they fled the country one day after the police raid.

The two men in custody "will have an automatic appeal under laws governing the death penalty," the newspaper said.

In a separate case, another man was sentenced to death by the same court in Abu Dhabi for offering to sell heroin to undercover police in Sharjah, one of the UAE's seven emirates.

The state news agency WAM identified the convict as Asian without specifying his nationality.

Executions are rare in the United Arab Emirates, where death sentences are usually commuted to life in prison.

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