British Man Sentenced for Touching Man's Hip has Charges Dropped as UAE PM Intervenes

Published October 23rd, 2017 - 01:20 GMT
Vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (AFP/File)
Vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (AFP/File)

A British man who was sentenced to three months' imprisonment in Dubai for touching another man's hip has had the charges against him dropped today.

Jamie Harron, 27, from Stirling, was sentenced in his absence for public indecency in Dubai yesterday.

The electrician had been working in Afghanistan and was on a two-day stopover in the United Arab Emirates when he was arrested in July.

He said he put his hand on businessman Emad Tabaza's hip to avoid spilling a drink in a crowded bar.

His accuser dropped the complaint, but local prosecutors decided to proceed with the case.

Now the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has exonerated Harron, according to the group Detained in Dubai.

Harron is now free to leave the country after having his passport returned, they added.

"The cases against him have been dismissed, and the sentence imposed by the court yesterday has been nullified," Radha Stirling, who works for Detained in Dubai, said.

"It has now been established that the allegations against Jamie were entirely unwarranted, defamatory, and meritless; to such an extent that the ruler of the country found it necessary to step in and correct the wrongful action of the public prosecutor and to quash the judgment of the court."



She said Harron is now considering a civil suit against the businessman and his staff who also accused him of drinking alcohol and making a rude gesture.

When he was sentenced yesterday, he was given two weeks to appeal the decision.

He was initially jailed for five days and then released on bail with his passport confiscated.

"He feels betrayed and exploited by the system," Stirling said, "which did not investigate the reports of key witnesses in his defense and led him to believe that the case would be dropped.'

"His family was unable to visit him during this critical time because they faced a very real risk of imprisonment themselves under the UAE's cybercrime laws which forbid criticism of the government."

Harron had already been sentenced in absentia to 30 days in prison for failing to appear at a court hearing for making a rude gesture and drinking alcohol during the same July incident.

Stirling said she believed a decree from Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, had resolved the case.

In Dubai, as in the other seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates, absolute power rests with the hereditary ruler.

"It was just a public-relations nightmare for the country," Stirling said.


This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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