British student tortured in UAE to face sentence tomorrow

September 24, 2014

Image of Barbed wire

A court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is expected to rule tomorrow (Thursday 25 Sept) on a British student’s appeal against his conviction, which was based on a ‘confession’ extracted 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.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has told legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Zeidan, that the Government takes the reports of torture “extremely seriously.”

The Sharjah public prosecutor is seeking a harsher sentence for Mr Zeidan, who initially faced charges carrying the death penalty. There are concerns that tomorrow’s sentence could be significantly longer than his current sentence of nine years.

Mr Zeidan’s health is reported to have deteriorated amid poor conditions in prison; he recently reported having coughed up blood, and has been refused access to a doctor.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “It is hard to believe that, having tortured Ahmad into a bogus confession, the UAE authorities are now seeking to increase his unjust sentence. The UK must urge the UAE to release Ahmad without delay, and put an end to the systematic and brutal torture of its prisoners.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1.  For further information, please contact Alice Gillham in Reprieve’s press office: alice.gillham@reprieve.org.uk / 0207 335 8160, or see here.

2. Tomorrow’s sentencing hearing will take place tomorrow morning at the Court of First Instance, Sharjah.