A British student who was arrested and tortured in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been punished by prison authorities after complaining about his mistreatment.
Ahmad Zeidan, from Berkshire, has been hooded, placed in solitary confinement for a week and had his access to food and water limited after complaining about conditions in the Emirati prison. Mr Zeidan has been held in prison since his arrest in December 2013, during which he was beaten and threatened with sexual assault after being arrested by Sharjah’s police.
Following his mistreatment last year, he 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, on the basis of ‘evidence’ extracted through torture, says the legal charity Reprieve.
Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Zeidan, helped him to raise a complaint about his torture. Although the Sharjah authorities say they have launched an investigation into the matter, his legal counsel have been denied access to any information relating to it, limiting their ability to raise the issue of Mr Zeidan’s torture during his trial, which is currently underway.
Mr Zeidan, a student 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 from London, was acquitted of charges relating to narcotics after his lawyers raised the issue of his torture at his trial in Dubai. Mr Ali had also been beaten and threatened by police in UAE, and forced to sign documents in Arabic which subsequently turned out to be a confession. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20413)
Reprieve investigator Kate Higham said: “Mr Zeidan has faced appalling treatment, both during and since his arrest – that he is now being punished simply for asking to be treated humanely is beyond belief. Like too many others, Mr Zeidan is facing a potential death sentence on the basis of bogus statements extracted from him through torture. The UAE must get a grip on its police torture epidemic – and Britain, as a close ally, must lead the way in pressing for this, especially when it comes to its own citizens.”