The prison hell of a Gulf prince’s British bodyguard

Hasnain Ali returned to Dubai to celebrate a family birthday and walked into a life of brutal beatings and torture

Chief Reporter

As a former bodyguard to members of the Abu Dhabi royal family, Hasnain Ali was used to being at the beck and call of those with power in the United Arab Emirates. But little can have prepared him for the reception he allegedly received when he stepped into a car in Dubai a year ago.

The 32-year-old Briton had travelled to the glittering Gulf city last May for a short break to celebrate a family birthday, expecting to return to Knightsbridge to continue his work as a security industry professional.

Instead, Mr Ali found himself under arrest by the anti-narcotics squad of the Dubai Police after climbing into what he thought was the car of a friend ahead of a night out. Within moments, he claims, he was set upon by detectives, who held a stun gun to his face and was dragged out of the car and beaten on the pavement.

For the next four days, he was held incommunicado in Dubai’s central police station when, he alleges, he was slapped, kicked and spat on,  as well as being threatened with stun guns and sexual assault.

It is an experience that haunts Mr Ali. In an interview while in custody, he said: “There were brutal beatings, verbal abuse and threats to my family. It is hard to say what happened or what I was asked at each interrogation session. I was in a lot of pain, coughing up blood from being repeatedly kicked in the stomach. I had not slept for several days because of the pain I was in, the filthy conditions, and the constant noise in the cells made by prisoners and police.”

Mr Ali was then presented with a document written in Arabic – a language he does not speak – and told to sign it. The document was a confession to possessing and intending to sell 150g of cocaine, an offence for which he now faces a potential death sentence.

He will not learn the verdict of the panel of three judges trying him until next month at the earliest. But campaigners have raised the case as the latest in a series of police investigations in Dubai tainted by allegations of torture and mistreatment to force false confessions out of prisoners.

Three British tourists were released last year after spending more than a year in a Dubai prison for a crime they insist they did not commit. Grant Cameron, Karl Williams and Suneet Jeerh said they were repeatedly beaten and attacked with Tasers, and described going to Dubai as the worst mistake of their lives.

Jailed Britons Grant Cameron, Karl Williams and Suneet Jeerh (PA) Jailed Britons Grant Cameron, Karl Williams and Suneet Jeerh (PA)
Reprieve, the charity which has taken up Mr Ali’s case, said the authorities in Dubai had repeatedly failed to conduct appropriate and timely investigations into torture allegations. A study by the charity last year, based on interviews with prisoners in Dubai Central Jail, found that more than three quarters said they had suffered physical abuse after their arrest. A further 85 per cent said they were forced to sign documents in a language they did not understand.

Kate Higham, who has investigated Mr Ali’s case, said: “The British government must also do everything in its power to end this culture of impunity and secure justice for Mr Ali after his terrible ordeal.”

Since 2007, Mr Ali had acted as a close protection officer and arranged residential security for Sheikh Fatima Bint Mubarak, the mother of the current crown prince of Abu Dhabi, whose family’s assets include Manchester City Football Club. He also acted as the bodyguard for one of the crown prince’s sons while he was in Britain on holiday.

Hasnain Ali acted as bodyguard for one of the sons of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, left (Getty) Hasnain Ali acted as bodyguard for one of the sons of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, left (Getty)
But such links have counted for nothing in Dubai, where Mr Ali claims police officers mistook him for a suspect, known only as “Sam”. He alleges he was told a decision had been taken to make him carry the blame for cocaine found in the car and an apartment close to where he was staying. The Briton denies the charges against him.

In a sign that the Dubai judiciary is beginning to confront allegations of police torture, the judge in the case this week heard evidence from two prisoners who were being held in the same police station as Mr Ali and testified they had seen the after effects of his maltreatment, including seeing him coughing up blood.

Dubai police, who have previously denied claims of torture against them, did not respond to a request to comment on Mr Ali’s case.

News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEpic YouTube video features boundary-pushing staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PHP Developer - MySQL, RDBMS, Application Development

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: PHP Developer - MySQL, RDBMS, Applicatio...

SAP Business Analyst - Data Migration, £75,000, Manchester

£60000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP B...

SAP Data Migration Consultant, circa £65,000, Manchester

£55000 - £75000 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP Data Migration ...

SAP Data Migration Consultant, circa £65,000, Manchester

£55000 - £75000 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP Data Migration ...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star