Tortured British student faces verdict in UAE appeal
September 7, 2014
**UPDATE (12 Sept, 2014): Ahmad Zeidan’s verdict was delayed, and is now expected on 18 September**
A verdict is expected today (Monday 8 Sept) in the appeal by a British student against his conviction in Sharjah, UAE, which was based on a ‘confession’ extracted from him through torture.
Ahmad Zeidan (21), from Berkshire, was arrested on 13 December 2013 in the Emirate of Sharjah, which borders Dubai. He was beaten by police officers, hooded, stripped and threatened with rape, before being forced to sign documents in Arabic, a language he cannot read. Those documents were subsequently used against him in his prosecution on drugs charges.
In July this year the British Prime Minister told legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Zeidan, that the Government takes the allegations “extremely seriously,” and that UK officials had “made clear the importance of expediting the investigation into the allegations of mistreatment and asked the UAE to bring these to a conclusion before the appeal hearing”.
However, with Mr Zeidan’s appeal hearing now concluded and awaiting a verdict, there remains no indication that the UAE has come anywhere close to concluding the investigation into his torture, despite the UK Government’s explicit request.
There are also concerns over the Sharjah prosecution’s attempts to obtain a harsher sentence for Mr Zeidan, who initially faced charges which carry the death penalty but ultimately received a nine year sentence at his first trial.
Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team said: “Shamefully, the UAE doesn’t seem satisfied with having tortured Ahmad into making a phoney confession – they are now seeking to increase the already unjust sentence handed down to him. The UAE’s leaders seem indifferent to the epidemic of police torture which infects their country, and to the requests from the British Government that they investigate the brutal abuse to which Ahmad was subjected. The UK must redouble its efforts to see justice done and Ahmad released.”
Notes to editors For further information, please contact Donald Campbell at Reprieve: +44 (0) 207 553 8140 or see www.reprieve.org.uk/cases/2014_04_09_PUB_Ahmad_Zeidan