DUBAI // A policeman who was jailed after posting a video of himself on social media holding footballer Lionel Messi’s passport has been freed by the Dubai Court of Appeal.
On February 1 this year, the 24-year-old Emirati was sentenced to a month behind bars by the Dubai Misdemeanours Court. His lawyer appealed the verdict, telling judges his client should be acquitted as the clip caused no harm to the Barcelona and Argentina star.
Abdul Moniem bin Suwaidan argued that the officer had permission to make the video from Mr Messi’s business manager.
The officer was detained for 21 days, suspended from work and charged with breaching the player’s privacy, to which he confessed but said it was only a joke.
Mr Bin Suwaidan requested that the policeman be acquitted because the charge “lacks all elements of assault”.
“It is similar to the case of the two men who took a picture of themselves near the Address hotel when it went up in flames but prosecutors dismissed charges saying it caused harm to no one, and my client also caused harm to no one. Even Messi. Did he even see the video or expressed being offended by it?” said the lawyer.
The incident occurred on December 27 last year when the policeman was at Dubai International Airport’s private jet area to hand in a sick note.
Prosecutors said he waited for the footballer to arrive and tried to have his photo taken with him but was told he could not as Mr Messi, who was recently named a global ambassador for Expo 2020, was exhausted from the flight.
The footballer was in Dubai to receive the Player of the Year award at the Globe Soccer Awards.
The officer then noticed Mr Messi’s passport on the control desk, so picked it up and shot a video of himself holding it.
The clip was posted on Snapchat with the caption: “This is Messi’s, he is here in Dubai, what do I do? Shall I burn the passport or just put it back! Ok Ok you can go!”
Police were alerted a day after the clip was posted online and arrested the officer who said he had permission from who he thought was Mr Messi’s bodyguard, who was standing next to the passport control desk. The man turned out to be Mr Messi’s business manager, according to Mr Bin Suwaidan.
“He was standing there so I spoke to him in English and asked him if I could take a picture of myself with the player’s passport and he said yes,” said the officer, who deleted the clip after uploading it.
“I have no idea how it got circulated. I was just kidding and had never done this thing with anyone else before. I was wrong and I promise I would never repeat such behaviour,” he said.
A 31-year-old Emirati policeman testified that rules banning the use of mobile phones during working hours were clear.
“I don’t know why he did that, he knows it’s not allowed. We all would love to have a picture with Messi but it’s not allowed,” he said.
On Tuesday morning, the Court of Appeal acquitted the policeman of breaching Messi’s privacy charge.
Source: uae news