A British former soldier was forced to sign a drugs confession in Arabic despite being innocent, according to the group of campaigners representing his case.
Dad-of-two Andrew Neal, who served in the British Army for 24 years, was wrongfully detained by police in October and remains in prison, despite prosecutors knowing he has done nothing wrong, according to a legal advocacy group.
The 44-year-old moved to the United Arab Emirates in 2015 with his teacher wife and two young children, now aged six and two, to set up a dog training business after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Mr Neal, who was born in Nottingham and spent 24 years in the army from 1991, is the latest person to fall foul of the law in the Gulf state, according to a statement from Detained in Dubai.
The advocacy group said on October 4, Dubai police searched Andy’s car before arriving at his apartment with his children asleep in their beds.
His frightened wife and the children’s nanny were told to remain on the sofa, while Andy was taken into a bedroom, the statement reads.
He was pinned against a wall and punched in the stomach twice before being made to sit on a chair in the middle of the room and interrogated, Detained in Dubai said.
Andy, who has served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, was allegedly told: "You need to cooperate or you will be going away to prison for 10 years…we know you’ve been handling drugs."
He was then taken by police to another apartment where a Dutchman they called "Ray" was also arrested along with a woman, after police found drugs on them, the advocacy group’s statement says.
Andy has said he has no idea why he was take here, but all three were then taken to the police station and he spent the next 17 hours with no food, water or access to a bathroom.
Police allegedly drew up a statement in Arabic as Andy continued to plead his innocence, according to the statement from Detained in Dubai.
He was allegedly forced to put his fingerprint on the document to sign it, but when he asked what it said, he was told it is "exactly what you said".
Andy and his family later discovered the document was a confession that he purchased drugs from "Ray" and sold them to a man who they told Andy had accused him of selling drugs, the advocacy group said.
After four months of detention, the prosecutor allegedly decided to analyse the phones of those who had been arrested.
According to Detained in Dubai, they found no communications between Andy and Ray, nor with any of the others who were involved.
The new evidence is reported to have exonerated Andy and he was told the prosecutor would finalise the decision as to whether to release him or transfer his case to Abu Dhabi before the end of January.
Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai, who is representing the Neal family told Mirror Online: "The police not only failed to competently investigate the case, but have locked up an innocent British family man for over four months.
"The prosecutor is reportedly seeking a promotion, which may be what’s holding up his decision to release Andy Neal.
"If he releases him now, they are forced to admit fault, while if they transfer the case to Abu Dhabi, the case is no longer their responsibility; the whole investigation would begin again and Andy would be detained for a further four months, to again be found innocent."
Ms Stirling added: "It is wholly unacceptable that the UAE government seems to have made zero progress over the past ten years, despite incidences of incompetence, legal abuse and brutality being regularly highlighted to the government.
"Andy has lost his business, and has lost four months of his life to what can only be described as despicable police practice.
"I would like to see the Dubai police employ the equivalent of the UK’s PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act) system, and accountability for officers who fail to follow standards of police conduct, evidence protocols and interrogatory procedures and I call on the government of Dubai to respond to this injustice swiftly.
"Andy should not spend another night in prison, let alone another four months!
"It is shameful that law enforcement has a rubber stamp to ruin people’s lives, rob children of their parents, and jail innocent persons with impunity."
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: "We are providing assistance to a British man after his arrest in Dubai and are in touch with his family and the UAE authorities."
Top news stories from Mirror Online
Source: Read Full Article