Briton sentenced to death in UAE for selling drugs


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The Independent Online

A British man is sentenced to death in the United Arab Emirates after being found guilty of selling marijuana to an undercover police officer. Fears were intensifying last night for the unnamed 21-year-old, who is understood to have be facing the death penalty for selling 1,500 UAE Dirhams' worth (£260) of the drug to a police officer working on a sting. A 19-year-old Syrian man also faces punishment for the offence.

The Foreign Office last night confirmed the verdict, which, according to local reports, prompted a volatile reaction inside the UAE. The Briton's mother "collapsed" outside the courtroom. She was attended to by the mother of the Syrian man who insisted that the decision could be appealed.

Details were still emerging last night. But welfare charities in London said that the case is likely to be appealed. Pauline Crowe, chief executive of Prisoners Abroad, said: "If the sentence has just been passed, the dust will settle. Then if there is an appeal process; it is likely that the Government will support that.

She added that the case was a reminder of the necessity of adhering to laws abroad. "The UAE has always set out a very low-tolerance for certain illegal actions. You only need to look at the list of prohibitive drugs to see the extent of that. Harsh penalties are an intentional deterrent. There is still a vital message that needs to get through to those travelling to those areas." Last night Foreign Office in London confirmed the case and reiterated its stance on the death penalty which it says "undermines human dignity". "We will make representations against the use of the death penalty on a British national at whatever stage and level is judged appropriate," it said in a statement.

It is the latest case of a Briton facing the death penalty abroad. Lindsay Sandiford, 55, is facing a similar punishment in Indonesia after being arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle more than £1.6m worth of cocaine into Bali. Last night a Foreign Office spokesperson added: "We can confirm that a British national is facing the death penalty in the UAE."