Workers on trial for starting camp riot
Witness claims machinery was set on fire and windows were smashed in rampage
A group of eight men have been charged with leading a riot in which hundreds of labourers ransacked their camp, causing hundreds of thousands of dirhams worth of damage.
Prosecutors yesterday revealed details of the January rampage.
Dubai Court of First Instance was told that the row was sparked following a series of thefts from accommodation rooms in the Jebel Ali site.
After camp managers turned down requests to allow labourers to lock their rooms, protests began - increasing from 70 people to as many as 500 men, eyewitnesses told the court.
During the riot that followed, fires were started and a water tank was toppled from the roof of one accommodation block.
Prosecutors said that the men also smashed up doors, windows, AC units, vehicles, bikes, heavy machinery and also computers.
A 31-year-old Egyptian site supervisor said that the rioters surrounded his office and started hammering on doors and windows.
“There were some very scary moments until I managed to escape from them,” he testified in court yesterday.
“We were in danger… the riot was terrifying, I didn’t expect it at all.”
Dubai Court of First Instance was told that the accused, seven Indian men and their Bangladeshi workmate, were responsible for encouraging the men to riot. The cost of the damage was placed at Dhs287,000.
Prosecutors said it was sparked on January 3, about 8pm, when a 28year-old Indian man, one of the defendants, discovered his possessions had been stolen from his bed space. Another two men, also now on trial, reported having money stolen from their rooms to a security guard. The 25-year-old guard said he called Dubai Police, but workers quickly gathered and began to get angry. He testified: “I saw the defendants gathering about 70 workers and they were furious, asking us to give them keys to lock their rooms to avoid the thefts. “Then they started damaging the camp property. “Within minutes the number involved rose to more than 500 workers. “They started a riot and targeted the security guards’ offices. “They were using bars and rocks to damage the windows and doors and the suspects [on trial] were leading them.” He said one opened the fuel tank on some heavy machinery and threw a lighter inside, causing it to catch fire. “One of them went to the roof and started pushing the water tank until it collapsed to the ground,” the guard added. The riot ended when police arrived. A 30-year-old Emirati police officer said the ringleaders were found. Contrary to claims about the thefts, prosecutors said that the defendants were angry because the camp managers had confiscated alcohol from them earlier. The eight accused stand charged with damaging property, instigating a riot and setting vehicles on fire. They denied the charges. The trial continues next month.