XPRESS, United Arab Emirates
April 6 2008

25 on trial for Dubai jail abuse

By Awad Mustafa, Staff Reporter

Officials and guards charged with beating inmates at Dubai Central
Jail last summer have pleaded not guilty.

On the first day of trial on Sunday before the Dubai Criminal Courts,
they denied charges of assault, assault leading to permanent injury,
abuse of authority and criminal involvement.

The charges were filed following an investigation by Dubai Police
about abuse of inmates at the Dubai Central Prison on August 1, 2007.
The jail is located near Al Aweer. The defendants include four senior
officers, five corporals and 16 guards. Five prison guards also stand
accused of assaulting and permanently disabling a 41-year-old
Armenian prisoner.

The prosecution documents contain allegations that the officers beat
the Armenian to the point that he suffered spinal injuries and needed
surgery at the Rashid Hospital.

According to the prosecution's report, one prison guard who was also
an anti-narcotics agent `brutally and sadistically' assaulted

The senior officers were charged with conspiracy and abuse of power.

In his testimony to the prosecution, the Armenian inmate, Samuel C.
stated that he awoke to noise and screams and was then removed out of
his cell by members of the anti-riot police and prison guards.

He told the prosecution that he was punched and kicked by five guards
who asked him to stand up and when he was not able, they continued to
beat him more.

According to prosecution records, 18 prisoners testified against the
officers, including Herbert Tatham, the Canadian UN worker who was
jailed at the time for possession of narcotics.

Tatham in his testimony said that on August 1, the door to his cell
opened and masked men with dogs pulled him out and struck him with
batons. He claimed that as he was closer to the courtyard door he was
kicked even harder by guard to move quicker, until he was clear

Investigating officer Major Saif Al Mazroui, who was assigned by
Dubai Police to investigate the assault on the Armenian prisoner,
said prison authorities told him that Samuel C. sustained spinal
injuries from falling down the stairs.

Al Mazroui then stated that he collected all the video surveillance
tapes and discovered the brutal treatment of the inmates at the
Central Jail, especially on August 1 when the majority of the
incidents of assaults happened.

Presiding Judge Fahmy Mounir Fahmy postponed the case to next week
for the defence counsel to present its argument to the court. All the
defendants are out on bail.

According to the prosecution, the defendants also face a military
court marshal if found guilty.