UAE’s brutality exposed layer by layer
20 Sep 2017 - 16:38
Ten senior officials from the United Arab Emirates including cabinet members and a former Head of National Security could be arrested if they set foot in the UK after torture claims were handed to Scotland Yard.
The Metropolitan Police is launching an investigation after three Qatari men claimed they were subjected to beatings and sleep deprivation at the hands of UAE security guards.
One man, now aged 36, claims he was strapped to a chair, given electric shocks and hung upside down while being interrogated about links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organisation.
A Scotland Yard investigation is being launched through Britain’s powers of universal jurisdiction over serious crimes, such as torture.
If the police and Director of Public Prosecutions decide the case can go ahead it could lead to suspects being arrested on UK soil, put on trial and jailed for life if convicted.
Up to 10 UAE officials are said to be involved through having knowledge and control of what was taking place.
Dr Mahmoud Al Jaidah, 54, told how he was thrown behind bars for more than two years after being stopped at Dubai Airport.He claims that one minute he was going through security to board his flight, the next he was being blindfolded, his legs and hands tied up, and driven to a detention centre.
He said: ‘They asked me if I knew a particular person, an Emirati. When I said I did not a man slapped me in my face. It was very shocking for me because I had never been hit like that before. ‘They told me they would pull my nails out, hang me from my feet and keep me upside-down,. I was told: ‘We have a grave here. We can put you in it and no one will know what happened to you.’ ‘They started beating me with a stick all over my body and I had bruises. They make me lift my feet and they beat me on them. I was punched in the stomach.’
Dr Al Jaidah, who works for Qatar Petroleum, says the interrogation and beatings lasted for three days, during which he was deprived of sleep.
After eight months in solitary confinement he says he was finally brought before a court, only for the judge to ignore his testimony of torture and illness.
Later, after being sentenced to seven years in prison, he said he was offered the chance to go free, but only if he recorded a video confessing to helping Muslim Brotherhood. This he agreed to do to win his freedom but also on the promise that the footage would never be broadcast.
Separately, two friends were held after driving in two cars to UAE, where they were going to drop one of the vehicles off before driving back together.
Ali Al Hammadi, 36, personal assistant to Qatar’s Head of Security, claims he suffered horrific treatment which included being electrocuted and hung upside down.
He too claimed he was made to read a false confession, and given drugged tea before he did so. He said: ‘I was stripped naked and threatened with sexual abuse, had hair pulled from my body and was put in a chair where I was given electric shocks.
‘After I’d been a jail for a while they told me that as my beard has grown I have become a religious person and they will take a photo of me and say I am supporting Muslim Brotherhood’.
‘The worst moment was when they told me my mother was dead’.
Lawyers claim a third man, Yousef Al Mullah, 33, was not subjected to any physical beatings but suffered mental torture through sleep deprivation and threats of violence.
After their releases in 2015 following a rapprochement between the two countries when the new Emir of Qatar came to power, the three men say they decided to let the matter rest.
But their minds were changed when state TV in Dubai broadcast their ‘confessions’ after a diplomatic row broke out between a Saudi-led alliance and Qatar in June.
Dr Al Jaidah added: ‘This is not only about clearing our names and reputation. There are countless others from all over the world currently being tortured and detained illegally in UAE prisons.
‘We hope that an independent and impartial investigation (of the kind that will not take place in UAE) will not only expose the truth about what happened to us, but also act as a deterrent to those governments that flagrantly disregard international law and basic human rights. ‘We are bringing this compliant in London because we know that this city will not allow itself to become a safe haven for torturers.’
Rodney Dixon QC, who is representing the men , said: ‘This referral is a test of the British system’s duty, willingness and ability to uphold international law and human rights, no matter how challenging that may be.’
‘The UK legal system has shown time and again that it will stand by these principles and values. My clients are hoping that this time will be no different’.
The writer is a former foreign editor at Daily Mail, ex-Head of News and US Editor at Daily Mirror. In 2015 he set up Clio Media, a news and picture agency, with parenting author and feature writer, Tanith Carey.