'Send expatriate to rehab, not jail,' Abu Dhabi court hears

Locals and foreigners should be treated equally, says lawyer of expatriate caught with a pipe that contained traces of hashish.

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ABU DHABI // An expatriate caught with a pipe that contained traces of hashish should be rehabilitated rather than punished, a lawyer argued yesterday.

RR, 22, from India, was returning from a holiday with friends in Indonesia when customs officers found the pipe and discovered traces of the drug inside.

In court, he claimed he and his friends often shared their pipes. "Yes, it is nice to share," commented Chief Justice Dr Khairi Al Kabaash, head of the court. The defendant insisted that he must have taken the drug without his knowledge while using a friend's pipe, and that he mistakenly took one of his friend's pipes home.

"But you signed a confession," argued the chief justice. The man replied that after he was arrested he was given a statement in Arabic to sign. He said he did not understand it but signed it anyway and only later found out that it was a confession.

His lawyer, Dr Eman Al Jaberi, argued that there was no criminal intent in her client's actions. She said that he was born in the UAE to a conservative, well-educated family and graduated from a UAE university, so, therefore would not be so foolish to knowingly bring a piece of hashish into the country.

She said that given his young age and his history of good behaviour and lack of criminal record, he should be entitled to rehabilitation rather than punishment. Usually only Emirati drug offenders are sent for rehabilitation.

"The procedural code says that only locals can receive rehab and treatment.

"However, the UAE constitution says locals and expats should be treated equally, and the constitution is considered higher than the law," argued Dr Al Jaberi.

The case was adjourned until July7 so Dr Al Jaberi can seek a signed certificate from a medical facility that it will accept him for treatment. His parents will be required to pay for his treatment.