Eight Nigerian men have been sentenced to death in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. They were involved in a string of robberies at money exchanges and cash machines across the emirate in December 2016.
The ninth Nigerian, found guilty for possession of stolen money was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
He will be deported after serving his prison term.
He denied the charge against him and said that one of the accused’s brothers asked him to transfer to an account in Nigeria.
A total of 20 suspects were initially held for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016. Out of the 20 suspects, nine were convicted.
Some of the accused confessed to their crimes while others denied the charges levelled against them.
The verdict was handed down by Judge Majid Al Muhairi of Sharjah Criminal Court on Wednesday.
The gang were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of orchestrated attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to and from ATMs, and one money exchange in Sharjah.
The gang committed the heists at the busiest times of day when streets were crowded, which added to the confusion and enabled them to escape.
In each robbery the assailants struck quickly before police could arrive, the attackers however could not evade security cameras and police were able to recognise the suspects through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.
Video footage showed the suspects attacking security guards, making off with cash, and in one of the robberies slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with money boxes.
Police believe the suspects had monitored and tracked the security trucks used to transport money for a period of time before launching the attacks.
A prosecutor said on Thursday that as per the law, “a group of people who threaten the life of others while committing robbery are subject to the death sentence.” However, an appeal is expected to be launched and the sentences could get downgraded to life imprisonment.
The suspects were identified as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozoh, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Ngoka, Tochukwu Leonard Alisi and Chile Micah Ndunagu.
The five Nigerians reportedly barged into the BDC on March 20 and smashed the glass barrier between the customers and the staff, stole the money in multiple currencies and fled.
Two employees at the exchange were injured as they resisted the robbers. One of them managed to notify the police. The Sharjah Police coordinated with forces from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to nab the suspects from four emirates within 48 hours after the robbery was committed.