UAE court upholds sentence for tortured British student

A British student’s appeal against his sentence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), based on a ‘confession’ extracted through torture, has been rejected.

Ahmad Zeidan (21), from Berkshire, was arrested on 13 December 2013 in the Emirate of Sharjah, which borders Dubai. He was beaten by police officers, hooded, stripped and threatened with rape, before being forced to sign documents in Arabic, a language he cannot read. Those documents were subsequently used against him in his prosecution on drugs charges.

The Court today upheld his conviction, and refused to consider his forced confession and torture as evidence in support of his appeal.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has told legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Zeidan, that the Government takes the reports of his torture “extremely seriously”. Following a UK request, the UAE authorities pledged to investigate the allegations; however, Mr Zeidan has been unable to access the results of that investigation, adding to concerns about the trial proceedings.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “This is an absolutely unacceptable result. Once again, the UAE authorities have dismissed crucial evidence that Ahmad’s imprisonment is based on torture and false confession, making his conviction entirely unsafe and unsound. Worse still, Ahmed appears to be being penalised for raising these grave violations of his rights. Now more than ever, the UK must do everything it can to ensure Ahmad’s release.”