'I'm on Interpol's most wanted list, but the police won't arrest me'

Briton ranked alongside war criminals and genocidists for failing to return hire car

Cahal Milmo,Chief Reporter
Saturday 12 December 2009 01:00 GMT

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Louise Thomas

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The Interpol most wanted list leaves little to the imagination about the fearsome nature of its fugitives. From international terrorists to genocide suspects, it details 590 of the most ruthless and elusive villains on the planet. Then there is number 591 – which identifies a bemused holiday lettings sales manager from the West Country.

The man, whose identity The Independent has anonymised, yesterday found himself keeping company on the Interpol website with Ali Kushayb, an alleged architect of the genocide in Darfur, and at least 85 al-Qa'ida suspects after he left Dubai in 2006 without formally returning a leased Peugeot hatchback to a hire firm.

Three years later, the former financial recruitment consultant learnt of his place in the roll-call of high-ranking criminals hiding from justice after his father stumbled upon the entry on the website of the international policing organisation.

Alarmed by his newfound status as a global pariah mentioned in the same space as Joseph Kony, the murderous leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, the man this week presented himself at a local police station to surrender to the forces of law and order.

But despite featuring in Interpol's list of the 45 most wanted Britons, he was told by officers there was no outstanding warrant against him in the UK and therefore could not be arrested.

He told The Independent: "The whole thing is like some sort of Orwellian nightmare. I am the first to admit that I didn't deal with the hire car properly. I left the car with a friend after losing my job and being told I had to leave the country. I'm sure it would have resulted in a few missed payments before it finally got back to the company. But is that any reason at all to list me among the most dangerous people in Britain or the world?

"I am guilty of a minor offence that I knew nothing about until I had an email from my father this week saying I'm wanted by Interpol. I have had no contact from the car company or the Dubai authorities and yet they can place my name on this list. I'm in a state of legal limbo – I don't have the sort of money it takes to fight this in somewhere like Dubai. I had to leave because my visa was cancelled. I could be on that list for ever."

The man is wanted for fraud, according to the Interpol arrest bulletin, known as a Red Notice, issued against him by Dubai police, which also details his date and place of birth and full name.

He is one of thousands of ex-pats who have quit the troubled emirate after a drastic change in their personal circumstances caused by the collapse of the city's property boom. Authorities in Dubai have found more than 3,000 luxury cars parked outside the international airport in recent months, left behind by jobless foreign workers who could no longer afford the payments on the top-of-the-range Porsches, BMWs and Mercedes, and did not want to risk imprisonment by defaulting on loans.

Islamic law takes a strict view of financial crime and punishments for defaulting on debt can be severe. Even bouncing a cheque is punishable by imprisonment.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "A man attended a police station on Wednesday and told us he was wanted by Interpol. Subsequent checks showed he was the subject of a matter concerning a hire car but there was no warrant enforceable in the UK. As a formality, his name and address were taken."

Interpol said that it was obliged to circulate information on fugitives issued by its member states but underlined that a Red Notice was not the equivalent of an international arrest warrant. A spokesman added: "The person should be considered innocent until proven guilty." The Dubai Police declined to comment.

All of which was little comfort to the man. He said: "I'm going to be spending my time now wondering if I'll end up on an extradition warrant back to Dubai for an offence I didn't even know had been committed."

Who else is on Interpol's most wanted list?

::Ali Muhammad Ali Abd Al Rahman, aka Ali Kushayb

Former Janjaweed militia commander wanted by the International Criminal Court for 504 murders, 20 rapes and the forced displacement of 41,000 people in Darfur, eastern Sudan. He is thought to be in Sudan.

:: Boris Berezovsky

The Russia oligarch, who has been granted political asylum in Britain, remains wanted by the Moscow authorities for alleged fraud and embezzlement. Mr Berezovsky called the allegations against him "a farce".

:: Joseph Kony

The leader of the sinister and murderous Lord's Resistance Army, a cultish guerilla group in Uganda, is accused of abducting an estimated 30,000 children and displacing 1.6 million people. He is thought to be hiding in Congo.

:: Richard Bingham, aka Lord Lucan

The 7th Earl of Lucan went missing in 1974 following the murder of his children's nanny and there has been no reliable sighting since. Despite being declared legally dead in 1999, he still features on Interpol's list.

This article was amended on 21 August, 2014

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