Hasnain Ali, the Briton tortured by Dubai police, unexpectedly acquitted on first day of his trial


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The Independent Online

The family of a British man who was allegedly beaten, threatened with Tasers and who had a gun held to his head after being arrested for a drugs offence whilst on holiday in Dubai said they were overjoyed at his acquittal yesterday.

Hasnain Ali, 32, a former royal bodyguard, had faced a possible death penalty. He claimed he was held for three days without access to a lawyer or allowed to speak to his family following his detention in the popular tourist destination in May last year where he was celebrating a family birthday.

During his interrogation he was allegedly threatened with sexual assault as well as being beaten and kicked before he was forced to sign a confession in Arabic – a language he does not speak, campaigners said. 

His brother Jed welcomed the decision by a panel of three judges and called for urgent action to prevent other families going through the same ordeal.

“It is such a relief that Hasnain's innocence has been recognised and that we will soon have him home with his family. However, we still cannot understand why Hasnain was treated so terribly.

“We hope that the authorities in Dubai will put a stop to police torture before any other people or their families have to go through the same ordeal as us,” he said.

During the trial fellow prisoners described seeing Mr Ali suffering from severe injuries when he was brought back to their cell between interrogation sessions, his lawyers said. 

Mr Ali had previously been employed by the family of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi owners of  Manchester City football club, but had recently worked in Knightsbridge as a security professional.

International human rights groups have expressed growing concern over the treatment of prisoners in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, which comprises seven states including Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Dubai.

A recent report compiled by Reprieve found that 75 per cent of detainees in the UAE experienced some form of torture or abuse upon arrest including threats of sexual violence.

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s death penalty team said the case should never have been brought to court based on evidence gathered under duress. “Police torture and abuse in the UAE is systemic and ongoing,” she said.

The charity is also highlighting the case of Ahmed Zeidan, a 20-year-old British student, who it is claimed was also tortured by police after being arrested in the neighbouring state of Sharjah along with seven other men.

Prosecutors charged him with possession and dealing narcotics following the alleged discovery of 0.04g of cocaine and a small amount of drugs in the car in which he was travelling.

Mr Zeidan, from Berkshire, who was studying at an aviation college in Dubai, and the only other foreign national were charged with the more serious offence of supplying drugs whilst the five Emiratis were charged only with possession.

The British Government is now being urged to intervene on behalf of the student, who faces a possible death sentence after signing an allegedly forced confession.

Last year Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of his concern and called for an inquiry into the case of three British tourists during Downing Street talks with President of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan – one of Britain’s key allies in the region. The men were been beaten by Dubai police in 2012 after being jailed for cannabis offences but were later pardoned.

Campaigners say there also remain unanswered questions over the treatment of Lee Bradley Brown, a British man who died in police custody in 2011 whilst visiting Dubai. But Reprieves aid the authorities are refusing to conduct independent investigations into any of the allegations.

Last year the Foreign Office dealt with the cases of 257 Britons accused of drugs charges in the UAE. A spokesman said: “We are aware that a British national was acquitted on 15 April. We will continue to provide appropriate consular assistance as we have throughout the case.”