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Dubai’s primitive justice system leaves fitness instructor jailed in “medievally cruel” prison witho


When Artur Ligęska went to the Federal Court in Abu Dhabi on January 28th ,2019, after 9 months in detention, he felt hopeful. He had been accused of possessing and consuming methamphetamines, something he had never done in his life. Drug tests showed no trace of the substance in his system, and no drugs were found in his possession. At his last court appearance, his defence attorney had argued that there was absolutely no proof for the charges against Artur, and the police report confirmed the complete absence of physical evidence. It had been a long, traumatic experience, but Artur felt confident that it would finally be coming to an end.

“But five seconds after proceedings began,” Artur says, “I heard two – literally just two – words from the judge. ‘Life sentence’”

Artur was arrested, and eventually convicted on the farcical charges of possessing drugs he did not possess, and consuming drugs that were not in his system, based on information provided to the police via a “secret source”.

“It is alarmingly common in the UAE for police and prosecutors to detain and charge people from a single statement by an alleged witness,” says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai.“In drugs cases, these supposed witnesses are often themselves under arrest, and coerced by the police into implicating others. The names they provide the police may or may not be involved in drugs, but the fact that their names have been given is usually taken as definitive evidence against them in court, despite being entirely untrue.”