Omani who killed police officer not fit to stand trial
June 16, 2019 | 9:55 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: The Omani citizen who killed a police officer and injured an expat in a busy shopping mall was suffering from mental illness which caused hallucinations and made him believe he was the target of an armed gang.

A report in the Public Prosecution’s official publication makes clear that the man suffered from delusions for some years and his diminishing mental health led to the tragic incident, in December, 2017. The report also revealed that the attacker had been previously treated in hospital but failed to keep up with his prescribed medication or attend appointments.

The report states that on December 29, 2017, the 22-year-old, while carrying a knife, panicked when he saw Royal Oman Police Officer Saud Al Rawahi at a large shopping mall. Believing that Al Rawahi was part of a armed criminal gang he believed was trying to kill him, the citizen stabbed the police officer in the chest, killing him. Before the incident, he had also stabbed an expatriate in the back.

At his trial on February 25, 2019, The Criminal Court issued the following ruling: “The court has ordered to halt the trial’s procedure until the defendant can return to his senses and become able to defend himself, so long as he is held in Al Massarrah Hospital in the interim. The Public Prosecution must provide the court with a report regarding his mental and psychological condition every three months.” A report published by the Public Prosecution in its monthly publication reads: “[the citizen] who is 22 began showing signs of mental disturbance when he was ten when his parents noticed violent behaviour and a lack of regard for schooling and they took him to Sultan Qaboos hospital.”

In 2011, aged 15, the citizen began showing signs of a particular type of mental illness, which led to him “conversing with himself and showing signs of auditory and visual hallucinations”, according to the Public Prosecution. “This culminated in the deep belief that he was being targeted by a group of armed criminals, after which he was transferred to Al Massarrah hospital for treatment,” the report added.

As his condition worsened, his hallucinations made him believe that the armed group was attacking him at home, and he set fire to the house to protect himself. The citizen ran to the roof of the house and jumped off, causing himself serious injuries. On December 29, 2017, he had left his home for the afternoon prayer when a bout of hallucinations struck him. He saw a group of men and feared them to be armed criminals. He ran to his home and grabbed a knife, after which he returned to the streets and first stabbed a Pakistani national in the back.

When Saud Al Rawahi saw the citizen with the knife, the police officer tried to apprehend him. According to the Public Prosecution, “[the citizen] does not remember what happened exactly, but he seems to recall stabbing the police officer while trying to defend himself from the criminal organisation [which he imagined].”

After the 2017 tragedy, a medical committee evaluated the case and confirmed the citizen’s condition, and that he was “under the effects of hallucinations and paranoia, and he was unaware of the terrible consequences of his action, which makes him not responsible for his actions at the time.” Based on Article 50 of the current penal code, those who are unaware of their actions at the time of the crime are not legally accountable for their actions.

According to the Public Prosecution’s explanation, he was diagnosed with a mental illness in 2011. The citizen was then kept in the hospital and treated for a time until his condition improved noticeably, and he was cleared to leave the hospital.

“However,” the report added, “he did not take his medicine regularly and did not follow up at the hospital as was required, and his condition worsened.”

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