It’s been more than one year since a Qatari doctor was detained in the UAE on suspicions of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
On Monday, a court in Abu Dhabi is expected to rule on the fate of Dr. Mahmood Abdulrehman Al Jaidah, who was taken into custody at Dubai International Airport on Feb. 23, 2013.
Days before a verdict is expected, Amnesty has released full details about his case, and urged the UAE to release Al Jaidah, director of medical services for Qatar Petroleum. In a statement, the human rights group said:
“Amnesty International considers Mahmoud al-Jaidah a prisoner of conscience and there are genuine fears that he may become the latest victim of the increasingly discredited and flawed system of administration of justice in the UAE. If convicted, he could face a lengthy prison sentence with no right of appeal, in contravention of the UAE’s obligations under international human rights law…
As a first step, the UAE authorities must drop the charges against Mahmoud al-Jaidah, immediately and unconditionally release him, and independently investigate his allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and bring to justice anyone found responsible.”
A verdict was initially expected last month, but then postponed. For weeks, supporters of Al Jaidah have been bracing themselves for the decision.
On the website Free Dr. Al Jaidah, son Hassan Al Jaidah said:
“After spending one year imprisoned, after finding no single evidence to condemn my father, we are sure InshaAllah that it is just a matter of a few days and he will be home surrounded by his family InshaAllah. And all what he faced will be from the past InshaAllah.”
But others have told Doha News that they are not optimistic about the doctor’s chances.
Last month, Fahad Ansari, spokesman for Cage Prisoners, a group that works on cases in which people appear to be arbitrarily detained, called the upcoming verdict a “foregone conclusion…in the brutal spirit with which these political trials are being prosecuted.”
Al Jaidah spent the first nine of the last 12 months in solitary confinement at a secret detention center. He was moved to Al Razeen Prison in Abu Dhabi after being charged in November with “financially and morally supporting members of this secret underground organization (the Brotherhood).”
During his detention, he has reportedly been tortured and often denied access to legal counsel and visits from relatives, supporters have said.
The doctor has denied charges that he was helping to support the Al Islah group, a banned organization in the UAE tied to the Brotherhood.
However, Amnesty states that in March and May of last year, he signed and fingerprinted dozens of documents apparently under duress, without being able to read them first, or consult with a lawyer.
According to the rights group, other matters of concern regarding the doctor’s case include:
- Strip searches on trial days that required Al Jaidah to sit naked for hours before being allowed to enter his cell;
- The brief detention of Al Jaidah’s 25-year-old son Abdulrahman, after a hearing on Dec. 23, 2013. At the time, “Several state security officers took him outside, handcuffed him, put a bag over his head and drove him to an unknown location where he was interrogated about his campaigning for the release of his father.” The son was released the following day and escorted back to Doha by security officers on a private flight, but only after he signed a document apologizing for “talking badly about the UAE.”
- Harassment of Al Jaidah’s Emirati lawyer, Abdulhameed al-Kumaiti, who also worked on the cases of several others in mass trials regarding the Al Islah group. Al-Kumaiti alleges that he has been frequently followed by cars belonging to the UAE’s state security. Three other UAE lawyers previously retained by Al Jaidah family have withdrawn for “personal reasons.”
The verdict is expected on March 3. Thoughts?