Briton’s UAE torturers to give evidence at his trial tomorrow

April 22, 2014

Image of Barbed wire

Two of the policemen who tortured a British student are set to appear at his trial tomorrow (23 April) in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Ahmad Zeidan (20), from Berkshire, has been held in prison since his arrest by Sharjah’s police in December 2013. Following mistreatment including beatings and threats of sexual assault, Mr Zeidan signed documents in Arabic – a language he cannot read – which are now being used against him at his trial on drugs charges. If convicted, Mr Zeidan could face the death penalty.

Last week, Mr Zeidan was hooded, placed in solitary confinement and had his access to food and water limited after complaining about conditions in the Emirati prison. He was released today in advance of the hearing.

Sharjah’s public prosecution has called the two policemen as witnesses, despite the fact that both men failed to appear when requested at two previous hearings.

Legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Zeidan, has helped him to raise a complaint about his torture. The public prosecution claims to be investigating the matter, even as it seeks to rely on evidence extracted through torture at Mr Zeidan’s trial. That investigation has been criticised as falling far short of the requirements of international law, particularly after Mr Zeidan was forced to identify his torturers in a face-to-face meeting without his lawyers present. His lawyers have been denied access to any information relating to the investigation, limiting their ability to raise the issue of his torture at the trial.

Mr Zeidan, who at the time of his arrest was studying at the Emirates Aviation College, is the latest in a series of people to suffer torture at the hands of the UAE authorities. Last week Hasnain Ali (32), from London, was acquitted of charges relating to narcotics after his lawyers raised the issue of his torture at his trial in Dubai.

Reprieve investigator Kate Higham said: “It beggars belief that the court is prepared to hear evidence against Mr Zeidan from the policemen who tortured him. These men have already shown total contempt for the rule of law – first subjecting Mr Zeidan to shocking mistreatment and extracting bogus statements from him, then failing to appear in court on multiple occasions. The UAE must deal with the problem of police torture as soon as possible, and the UK Government must intervene urgently before any more Brits are affected.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The hearing will begin shortly after 8am GST/ 5am BST on 23 April at Sharjah Court of First Instance.

2. For further information, please contact Alice Gillham in Reprieve’s press office: +44 207 553 8160 / alice.gillham@reprieve.org.uk