x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Prisoner left disabled after guards beat him wins Dh200,000 damages

A prisoner who sued Dubai Police for Dh5 million after he was beaten and abused by jail guards has been awarded Dh200,000 in damages.

DUBAI // A prisoner who sued Dubai Police for Dh5 million after he was beaten and abused by jail guards has been awarded Dh200,000 in damages. SC, 42, an Armenian businessman, suffered spinal injuries requiring immediate surgery at Rashid Hospital to insert a metal rod into his spine. He now has what is described as a permanent 10 per cent disability and is unable to flex his back.

"He is still undergoing rehabilitation and we cannot yet confirm the full extent of the damage," said his lawyer, Aisha al Tunaiji. SC was convicted of an undisclosed criminal offence and jailed in early 2007. During a surprise cell inspection by guards at the Dubai Central Prison on August 1, 2007, SC was among a number of inmates who were abused. The guards formed a double row outside the cells and ordered the men to come out. As they moved between the two lines, the wardens and police kicked and beat them.

In 2008, 24 prison guards and the director of the prison were found guilty at the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance of abuse of power, conspiracy and assault. They were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three months to six months, later suspended on appeal. Seven of the guards were also convicted on separate charges of assaulting SC and permanently disabling him, and received suspended three-month prison sentences. 

Civil claims were filed against all 25 men in 2008, following an investigation by a Dubai Police special task force into inmate abuse at the prison.  "The police offered monetary compensation but my client felt it was too little, and said he wanted to take them to court," Ms al Tunaiji said.  A Dh5m suit was filed for medical, emotional and financial damages. The Civil Claims Court heard the case in December.

"He has been severely hurt in this assault, he is still being treated and has undergone a number of operations," Ms al Tunaiji told the court in December. The court reached its verdict after reviewing the medical reports and basing its judgment on SC's percentage of permanent disability, Ms al Tunaiji said. The ruling was issued in June but has only now come to light. "He was released on bail, but because his criminal court sentence included deportation, we are now finalising his release papers for him to be repatriated," Ms al Tunaiji said.  

"The Dubai Government legal affairs department has been very cooperative and issued the payments in a timely manner," Ms al Tunaiji added.