x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Surgeon in obscene gesture case not returning for trial, lawyer says

In long letter, surgeon lays out his case and claims he would not get a fair trial if he returned to the UAE.

DUBAI // The prominent British surgeon charged with raising his middle finger at a police sergeant will not return for his trial, saying he could not put his family through such an "unfair and unpredictable ordeal".

Dr Joseph William Nunoo Mensah, 41, has not appeared at any of his court hearings after being granted bail and returning to England. Today, his lawyer, Abdul Rahman Al Mudarrib, presented a long letter from Dr Mensah addressing the incident.

"Since the 20th July, I have had various discussions with senior colleagues and family about this matter," he wrote. "I don't believe it is in my best interest to return back to the court ... This is not a decision I have made lightly. I have already sustained financial losses, tarnished reputation, unfair and unjust detainment in Dubai and as matters stand, probably unlikely to obtain a fair hearing in Dubai Court.

"Furthermore, it will be extremely unreasonable of me to put my family through this, an unfair and unpredictable ordeal, again. Quite frankly, my family will not allow me to get on a plane to return to Dubai for this court hearing."

In June, Mr Al Mudarrib had asked the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours for a long continuance, explaining that Dr. Mensah had left the country on urgent business but would be back for the next hearing. The letter explains that a judge allowed him to have his passport back by forfeiting Dh2,000 and the passport of another, unnamed person.

"I am indebted to the judge's kindness," he wrote.

Prosecutors have charged Dr Mensah, a consultant colorectal surgeon at King's College Hospital, London, with committing a public indecent act. He denied the charges during prosecution and police investigations.

According to records, about 7pm on April 25, Dr Mensah was driving his black Mitsubishi Pajero on Jebel Ali-Lihbab Road with his wife and son. A white Toyota Corolla pulled up close behind him and flashed its lights.

"I thought he wanted me to give way, but I couldn't, as there was only one lane," he said.

He said the road was narrowed because several lanes were closed by construction.

When the road opened up, as Dr Mensah was driving at 60kph, the driver of the Corolla pulled up next to him and rolled down his window. Dr Mensah told prosecutors he responded by raising both hands in a gesture of confusion, as he did not know what the other driver wanted from him.

SS, 28, a first sergeant at the General Department of the Naturalisation and Residency, testified that he was with his child in the car when he noticed that Dr Mensah was driving at night without his lights

"I flashed at him twice to alert him," he said. "When I opened the window, I was surprised to see him raising his middle finger at me."

But in his letter, Dr Mensah said that was not the case.

"We had our headlines on as it was dark. During this encounter, the officer turned on his inside light for me to obviously see him in the dark, and therefore it was not possible for him to have also clearly seen me in my vehicle to make an accusation that 'I had raised my middle finger', which I did not," he wrote. "In fact, to date, I am not entirely sure whether his allegation is based on somethign he saw when he was driving behind my vehicle or something he saw when his vehicle was driving parallel to our vehicle."

Dr Mensah did not look towards SS nor open his window, SS testified. He said he pulled behind Dr Mensah's car, wrote down its plate number and called police.

Police called Dr Mensah to Lihbab police station, where he was detained and his passport was confiscated.

He was travelling with his wife, AW, and their children when he was arrested in April. They had been due to return to the UK on May 1, so his family returned without him.

"To date we have resisted a counter legal action against the accuser as it serves no benefit to anyone, prolongs this unfortunate matter and finally, just like my accuser, we have no strong independent evidence to actually prove any of our claims," he wrote. "Furthermore, to date it appears that no relevance has been taken into account that it was actually the safety and security of my family, and indeed also the young child who was sitting on the accuser's lap, which were being threatened by the tailgating, reckless driving and the behaviour of the accuser on the road."

Dr Mensah is a Ghana-born British national, and came to UAE at the invitation of the US Cleveland Clinic, which was building a medical centre here. His father is a senior minister in Ghana and a national security adviser to the president.

The verdict is scheduled for September 12.

salamir@thenational.ae