x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai prisoners send open letters to Obama

Cheque-fraud prisoners in Dubai Central Prison have submitted open letters to the United States president, Barack Obama, asking him to consider their sentences as a humanitarian crisis.

DUBAI // Cheque-fraud prisoners in Dubai Central Prison have submitted open letters to the United States president, Barack Obama, asking him to consider their sentences as a humanitarian crisis.

Consular officials visited the American, Zack Shahin, yesterday morning, who passed over two handwritten letters from prisoners in the jail.

Mr Shahin, the former chief executive of Deyaar Realty, who is being held on charges of corruption, began a hunger strike on Monday.

"He's been visited regularly and consular officials have attended many of his hearings," a spokesman for the US Embassy said. "We are concerned about his health and we are working with officials to monitor his condition."

The letter was submitted by Mr Shahin but was understood to have been written by other prisoners. "We are hoping they will intervene in our case," said Christopher Renehan, a 38-year-old Irishman who was on a hunger strike in protest against his sentence until last week.

About 21 prisoners are still refusing food, said Mr Renehan.

A senior prison official, Brig Omar Al Attar, did not have any knowledge of the letter but said it was unclear what it would achieve. "The procedure here is to go through the court or the public prosecutor," he said.

mcroucher@thenational.ae