Briton convicted of drug dealing in Dubai wins appeal against death penalty

The British man was sentenced to death by Abu Dhabi’s criminal and appeal courts before the verdict was revoked

A Briton sentenced to death by two Abu Dhabi courts for selling drugs to an undercover policeman has won an appeal against the verdict.

The man, 54, denied a charge of possessing drugs with the intent to sell but was convicted and handed the death penalty by Abu Dhabi Criminal Court.

The sentence was later upheld by the emirate’s appeal court.

Now Abu Dhabi’s Federal Supreme Court has revoked the ruling and ordered a new panel of judges hear the case again, at a date to be fixed.

The mechanic was arrested after selling Dh125,000 worth of heroin to an undercover officer in Naif, Dubai, in March, 2018.

His lawyer told judges the man was a victim of circumstance.

“His need for money was taken advantage of by other men,” said legal consultant Dr Hasan Elhais of Al Rowaad Advocates.

The case was tried in Abu Dhabi because it involved a drug trafficking charge.

A second defendant, 45, from Pakistan, was arrested for supplying the Briton with the drugs he sold.

“I was stranded in Oman and called a friend in the UK asking to borrow money from him,” the British man said.

“My return ticket had expired and I needed a new one to return to the UK for surgery.”

But his friend offered him a one-time job in return for a payment of more than Dh3,500.

“He told me it was in Dubai, so I took the bus and headed there.”

The Pakistani man met him and gave him money and a package.

The following day, both men were arrested after a Dubai policeman posing as a customer bought two kilograms of heroin from them.

“I had never dealt in drugs. This was my first time, and I only did it because I needed the money,” the British defendant said.

During questioning, the Pakistani defendant told investigators he was given the drugs by two other men.

The pair, from Iran, were arrested.

All four were charged with possessing drugs to sell.

The British and Pakistani defendants were handed the death penalty by the criminal court while the other two were cleared of the charge.

“We appealed because many procedural errors happened during the course of the case,” said Dr Elhais.

But the sentence was upheld by the appeal court in April of this year.

A second appeal was filed, taking the case to the Supreme Court.

“The arrest procedures being invalid is one of these procedural errors,” Dr Elhais said.

“Another is that records didn’t clarify if the panel of three judges were unanimous in their verdict, which is mandatory when passing a death penalty in the UAE.”

Dr Elhais told Abu Dhabi’s highest court the testimony of the undercover policeman, being a Pakistani citizen, should have been taken in the presence of a legal translator. This did not happen.

Judges were told the Briton’s record is clear of any previous drug-related charges.

“Also, a panel of judges heard the case at the beginning but then a different panel took over and issued the verdict, which is inconsistent with the law,” Dr Elhais said.

The lawyer said he will request his client be acquitted when the case is next heard.

It is not yet known in which court the case will be held.

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