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Britons alleging UAE abuse showed no sign of mistreatment-police

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 14 Mar 2013 12:17 GMT
Author: Reuters
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DUBAI, March 14 (Reuters) - A police officer told a court in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday that three Britons who allege they were tortured after their arrest on drug charges exhibited no injuries or signs of mistreatment.

Grant Cameron, Karl Williams and Suneet Jeerh were taken into custody in July 2012 during a holiday in the UAE after police said they found a form of synthetic cannabis in their hire car.

They say that police subjected them to beatings and threatened them with guns, according to Reprieve, a London-based legal charity which campaigns for prisoner rights.

All three have pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of illegal drugs at a trial at the Dubai Criminal Courts.

At a hearing on Thursday, policeman Osman Ali Abdulla, who took part in the arrest, denied that any of the men were abused or beaten and said they were treated well.

Responding to questions from Issa bin-Haider, a lawyer representing Jeerh, Abdulla said the men showed no form of injury following their arrest. All three men were present in court on Thursday and appeared to be in good health.

Abdulla added that two of the three were provided with medication for pre-existing ailments.

"While the men were being questioned we found out that Suneet had asthma and needed an inhaler, so we provided him with one and a second accused had low sugar level and we also provided him with aid for that," he told the court.

There is zero tolerance for drug-related offences in the United Arab Emirates, a regional business hub and tourist destination where millions of expatriates live and work. There are severe penalties for drug trafficking and possession.

Reprieve has said that following the alleged mistreatment of the men, the three were pressured to sign documents in Arabic, a language they did not understand.

The court session was adjourned to April 8, when more witnesses will be questioned.

Last year, a British citizen and a Syrian were sentenced to death by a UAE court after they were convicted of selling drugs to an undercover policeman. This month the sentences were commuted to four years in prison.

Executions are rare in the UAE, which maintains that its judiciary is independent. (Reporting by Amena Bakr and William Maclean; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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