[Reader-list] Specks Of Dirt in Dubai

Naeem Mohaiemen naeem.mohaiemen at gmail.com
Mon Jun 2 17:42:25 IST 2008

>From The Times
March 24, 2008

Endemol exec sent to Dubai jail after customs find 'speck of dirt'
Warning to travellers over Dubai drug laws as it is claimed officials
'are paid bounty for each arrest'

A speck of dirt invisible to the human eye was all it took to land Cat
Le Huy in a Dubai jail.

Officials at Dubai airport claimed they had found 0.03 grams of
hashish in the Endemol television executive?s bag after he had
travelled to the United Arab Emirates to visit a friend last month.
They accused him of possession ? which would have led to a mandatory
four-year prison sentence had he been convicted. After he spent six
weeks in Dubai?s jails protesting his innocence, prosecutors dropped
the case this month.

Mr Le Huy, 31, a German citizen living in London, claims that Dubai
officials are paid a ?bounty? for arresting drug offenders, a practice
confirmed independently to The Times by sources who did not wish to be

?People shouldn?t go to Dubai until the laws change,? Mr Le Huy
said. ?They are running a risk. Even if you?re innocent and know
about the laws, if they suspect you of anything, you run the risk of
incarceration.? Taking medicine into Dubai

Russell Secker is concerned that the country's strict policy on drugs
may outlaw some prescription medicine

Tourists get four years in a Dubai jail

Two Britons visiting Dubai have each been jailed for four years for
possessing tiny amounts of soft drugs for personal use Background

His experience is common, according to Fair Trials International, a
legal charity, which says that drug-related arrests have increased
rapidly since 2006, when the laws changed in Dubai so that trace
amounts of banned substances picked up by airport detection equipment
were deemed to indicate possession. ?People are being subjected to
very thorough searches,? said Saima Jirji, a solicitor at the charity.
?Even seams in their clothing and the fluff in their pockets is being

Mr Le Huy claims that he was also approached by a detective asking
whether he knew any drug-takers back in Britain and whether he could
coerce them into coming to Dubai. He alleged that at least two other
foreign inmates had been approached with similar requests. The UAE
Embassy in London refused to comment.

At first he was accused of smuggling heroin after officials found
pills in an unmarked container that turned out to be jet-lag medicine
sold freely over the counter in Dubai and the US.

He was strip-searched. Officials claimed to have found a trace of
hashish in his bag and detained him. He was asked to sign letters in
Arabic, which he could not read. Only after being told that he would
at once be deported if he signed did he do so, but he wrote ?under
duress? beneath each signature.

Instead of being deported he was put in solitary confinement. Because
he was dehydrated and forbidden from drinking he was only able to
produce a urine sample after eight hours.

Last year 59 British people were detained in Dubai over drugs
offences, and so far this year the figure is nine, according to the
Foreign Office. Keith Brown served nine months after customs officers
found a 0.003 gram trace of cannabis stuck to his shoe. This month
the BBC Radio 1 DJ Grooverider, whose real name is Raymond Bingham,
started a four-year sentence for possessing 2.16 grams of cannabis.

Fair Trials said the list of prohibited substances included everything
from antidepressants to a cough medicine for children. Even those in
Dubai on transit to another destination can be arrested under the

Mr Le Huy denies that there were ever any drugs on his person.
?Hashish isn?t something available in my social circle ? the idea it
was in my bag is absolutely ludicrous,? he says.

He was pressed by the authorities to plead guilty, but his refusal
left him in a legal limbo. After a persistent campaign by his friends
in Britain and after negotiations with his lawyer in the UAE, the
Dubai authorities agreed to drop the investigation.

He had initially spent two weeks at the airport jail, where
he couldn?t shower because of the condition of the bathrooms.
To compensate, he ?discovered the magic of Dettol?, using the
disinfectant to shower.

At Dubai Central Jail he suffered even worse conditions. Inmates slept
eight to a cell. Because of the poor food he lost 15 kilograms in
weight (more than two stone). ?Every day was a bad day when you wake
up and realise, ?I?m still here.? ? When he was finally released,
he was taken to a police station to pick up his passport, only for
detectives to put him in a bloodstained cell for another four hours.

During the six weeks he had found solace in the company of other
English-speaking inmates such as Grooverider. Mr Le Huy said that
foreign inmates were treated with ?distant contempt? by guards,
who ?played mind games? with them. ?They?d ask us to go out in the
courtyard at 1am, then take four hours to search all our cells. There
was a lad from London who had a bronchial infection. They made him
wait in the rain for four hours even after we asked the guards if he
could stand in the corridor.?

?The laws and punishments of a nation are theirs to set,? he
emphasised, adding: ?My point is that you will be detained for a
minimum of 21 days if they suspect you of anything, whether or not
you?re innocent.?

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