x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Prisoner beaten by guards rejects settlement offer

A former prisoner is suing Dubai Police for Dh5 million (US$1.4m) after an attack by prison guards left him permanently disabled.

DUBAI // A former prisoner who is suing Dubai Police for Dh5 million (US$1.4m) after an attack by prison guards left him permanently disabled has turned down an out-of-court settlement offer, his lawyer said. SC, 42, an Armenian businessman, suffered severe spinal injuries when wardens at Al Aweer Central Jail beat him on August 1, 2007.

The attack took place while they were searching his cell during a wider operation at the prison. Last year, at the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance, four senior officers, five corporals and 16 guards were found guilty of abuse of power, conspiracy and assault following a police investigation into treatment of prisoners at the jail. During the three-month trial, 12 inmates from the jail testified that they had been assaulted by guards, five of whom were convicted of assaulting and permanently disabling SC.

All those convicted appealed. In June, the Dubai Court of Appeals upheld the convictions. The civil trial opened earlier this week. SC is suing for "medical, emotional and financial damages". Prosecution documents presented at the criminal trial stated that SC was beaten so severely that he suffered spinal injuries requiring surgery at Rashid Hospital. In their defence, the five guards convicted of assaulting SC claimed he had sustained his injuries when he fell down a flight of steps during the search of the prison.

The civil action implicates them and two senior officers. "He has been severely hurt in this assault," said his legal representative Aisha al Tunaiji, of Eve Advocates and Legal Consultants. "He is still being treated and has [had] a number of operations." SC was convicted of a criminal offence while on holiday in Dubai in early 2007. He has been in rehabilitation in a Dubai hospital since his release, according to Ms al Tunaiji.

By law, civil actions cannot be taken against government bodies until they have been given the chance to offer a settlement. "He was not satisfied with the Dubai Police settlement offer and stated that he wanted to take them to court," said Ms al Tunaiji. The civil action against Dubai Police, whose General Department of Punitive and Correctional Establishments is responsible for prisons, claims SC sustained a "10 per cent permanent disability" as a direct result of the assault.

Ms al Tunaiji said the civil case was filed last year and had only come to court now after the police failed to reach a settlement agreement with her client. Dubai Police and the Dubai Government's legal affairs office are contesting the action. amustafa@thenational.ae