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22 February 2024

No harm to Lionel Messi: Dubai lawyer

Argentine footballer Lionel Messi. (File)

By Eman Al Baik

The lawyer of the Dubai policeman, who was sentenced to one month in prison for posting a video with footballer Lionel Messi’s passport, asked the Appeal Court to acquit his client, as the posting of the video did not cause any harm to the player.

Abdul Moneim bin Suwaidan, of Bin Suwaidan Advocates and Legal Consultants, told the court that his client had permission from Messi’s business manager to shoot the video.

He asked the court to acquit the policeman and said that the charge lacks all elements of assault.

The policeman repeated his confession, saying what he did was only a joke.
The Appeal Misdemeanours Court will give verdict on March 8.

The First Misdemeanours Court found the policeman, JS, 26, guilty of breaching the Argentine player’s privacy, to which he admitted.

The policeman worked in Dubai International Airport’s private jet area. He took a video of himself holding the passport of the Argentine footballer when he arrived in Dubai on December 27 to collect the Globe Soccer Award’s best player award. The player has not commented on the incident.

“I was considering taking two days’ sick leave but when I learnt about Messi’s arrival in Dubai, I did not take leave because I was eager to see him and take a picture with him,” said the policeman.
However, it was not possible for anyone to take pictures with the famous footballer who was tired after the flight to Dubai.

The policeman then picked up the passport of Messi when he saw it left on the passport control desk.

He shot a video holding the passport saying: “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!”

The cop posted the video on Snapchat.

On the following day, police was alerted about the post and the cop was arrested.

JS said that Messi’s bodyguard, who was standing next to the passport control desk, permitted him to video record himself with the passport.

“He was standing near me and I asked him for permission in English to take a picture of myself with Messi’s passport and he said yes,” the cop told investigators, defending himself.

Defending the passport control officer, the policeman told investigators that the officer did not see him making a video of himself with the passport.

However, the cop deleted the video clip after uploading it.

“I have worked for Dubai Police since 2007, I have never done something like that to anyone. I don’t know how it was circulated… I was just joking. What I have done was wrong and I will never do it again,” said the policeman, expressing regret for his mistake.

Policeman MA, 31, Emirati, told investigators that he noticed colleague JS when he was patrolling the private jet area.

“It was 4am when I saw him. My colleague asked him to go home before he left to resume checking plane landing,” he said.

MA noted that, according to the rules made clear to policemen, the use of mobile phones during working hours is banned.

“I wonder why he did that although it is banned. We all love to have a picture with Messi but it is not permitted,” he said.