Legal groups offer support to men's families

A legal group offered support to the families of two men sentenced to death for selling drugs.

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ABU DHABI // Legal groups yesterday offered support to the families of two men sentenced to death for selling 20 grams of marijuana to an undercover policeman.

Radha Stirling, lawyer and founder of Detained in Dubai, a charitable organisation which offers support to those incarcerated in the UAE, said: "It is unimaginable what the family will be going through. It's unimaginable to have two such young boys sentenced to death so harshly."

The pair, a 21-year-old Briton and a 19-year-old Syrian, were sentenced to death on Monday after being convicted of selling marijuana.

Ms Stirling has dealt with many cases during four years as head of Detained in Dubai, but said she has never seen anything so harsh relating to drugs. Usually, personal consumption carries a sentence of around three years and selling, around seven.

"For these men, that's already the best part of their 20s gone," she said.

She is confident, however, that the sentences will be overturned, although warned the court process is lengthy and it could take years.

"The death sentence wouldn't be immediate," she said. "It can be dragged out for years in the appeal stages if managed correctly by the lawyers, although that's not necessarily the outcome you'd want as you don't want them in prison for a long time."

She said there was not enough information on the details of the case, in which two other young men were involved, one Emirati and one Sudanese.

"I wonder if the boys were actively selling drugs or if it was just a sting operation, which seems likely for such a small amount which could just be for personal use. If that's the case, that's very unfair."