x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Hospitalised drug addict arrested

A man accused of drug abuse said he was arrested despite going with his father to seek rehabilitation to end his addiction.

ABU DHABI // A man accused of drug abuse said he was arrested despite going with his father to seek rehabilitation to end his addiction.

Federal law states that if drug users turn themselves in, they will not be jailed. Instead, they are treated for one to six months until all toxins are removed from the body.

AS, an Emirati, from Abu Dhabi, appeared before the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance on Tuesday charged with drug consumption. He has been in prison for about two months, the court heard.

He told the court he went to Khalifa hospital to turn himself in for drug rehabilitation. The hospital advised him to go to police, who would refer him to the hospital.

"He went to the police and then he was referred to the hospital, where he stayed for 15 days," said the lawyer for AS, Faiza Moussa.

But then the police referred his case to the Public Prosecution, he told the court, who charged him.

"I did not know I was charged with anything," AS said. "They told me I needed to see a judge for the drug check-ups after I finish my rehabilitation."

After rehabilitation, addicts remain under surveillance for two years to ensure they do not relapse.

Mrs Moussa presented a letter from the hospital stating the defendant had turned himself in to police before being referred to the hospital.

But Chief Justice Saeed Abdul Baseer said the report was not enclosed in the documents his court received. The case was adjourned three times for the Public Prosecution to present it.

The justices will issue a verdict on Sunday.

This is not the first time a defendant has claimed he was arrested while seeking rehabilitation. In August, MM, an Emirati man living in Al Ain, told the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance that anti-drugs police arrested him while he was being moved to a rehabilitation centre in Abu Dhabi.

He said the traces of drugs found in his bloodstream were from before he turned himself in to a hospital in Al Ain to be treated for heroin addiction.

He said he left the hospital on July 7 after they told him he should wait for "three to four days" until they found him a bed in a rehabilitation centre in Abu Dhabi.

MM eventually was sentenced to four years in prison for drug consumption.

 

hhassan@thenational.ae