Friday, May 23, 2008

Burj Dubai birdman

A British man has leapt from the Burj Dubai to successfully complete the world’s highest BASE jump from a building - and promptly landed himself a date in court next week. The 36-year-old adventurer clambered up 150 floors of stairs without being spotted by security guards before leaping with a parachute just after 5am as dawn broke. He was arrested soon after landing.

“The Burj Dubai is the world’s tallest building and is a marvel of the world. I wanted to honour it, Emaar and Dubai by jumping safely from it,” he told 7DAYS. “I’m a sportsman, not a criminal. I’m responsible for my actions, but I’m regretful of any trouble it has caused the Dubai authorities as this wasn’t my intention.” The man, who wished to remain anonymous until his court case, added: “I have over 250 BASE jumps and many more skydives. All my jumps are planned carefully to minimise any risk to myself, anyone else and the object that I’m jumping from.” Officials at Public Prosecution said the man was arrested following last month’s jump and is due in court next week charged with illegally entering a property.

He could face one year in jail and a fine of dhs5,000. “His helmet had a video camera to record his jump. He didn’t try to get permission from Emaar because he was afraid that they would reject his request. He wanted to enter the ‘Guinness World Records’,” a source close to the case said. “He came to the UAE specifically to do the jump. His altimeter said he jumped from a height of more than 600 metres.” Defence lawyer Hamdan Al-Harmi, a partner in Al-Sharif Advocates, maintained that his client was not guilty of anything. “Jumping from a building is not a crime because my client is professional and was secured,” he said. “He has done many jumps before and he knew what he was doing. It is not a crime to enter an under-construction building and he didn’t know that it was forbidden to do so. He had no evil intentions.”

A second BASE jumper, a 47-year-old Frenchman, was arrested last month at the tower with his parachute equipment as he also attempted the feat. He was stopped before he jumped and has also been charged with illegally entering a building. The term BASE jumping is derived from the four categories of fixed objects from which a parachute jump can be made - building, antenna, span and earth.

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