x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Emirati naval officer fights US civil suit over housemaid

Lawyer to postpone a civil suit while criminal charges proceed.

The lawyer for an Emirati naval officer accused of holding an unpaid Filipina housemaid in the United States has filed a motion to postpone a civil suit she brought against him.

Col Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed al Ali is scheduled to appear in court on July 18 on criminal charges of visa fraud and lying to a government official. He is also facing the civil suit, filed by the maid to claim damages.

Col al Ali's lawyer, Robert Clark Corrente of Burns & Levinson, said he petitioned the court on Friday, arguing that according to federal law the civil lawsuit should be postponed while the criminal charges are pending.

Col al Ali had been studying at the Naval War College in Rhode Island before his arrest last month.

Prosecutors said he brought a woman from the Philippines to the United States to work as a maid, then took her passport and did not pay her or allow her to leave the home without an escort.

Col Al Ali was arrested by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement on April 11 after attempting to board a flight home with his family. He was later released on US$100,000 (Dh367,000) bail and ordered not to leave his house.

Mr Corrente said Mr al Ali employed the woman as a babysitter in Abu Dhabi for more than three years before moving the family to the United States last July.

They had entered into an employment contract before the move and the woman was paid $19,000 (Dh69,700) in full for the year, he said. But, he said, the woman disappeared after three months and "now claims she never received any of the money".

He said he expects the trial to take about a week. "This will come down to the testimony of the babysitter against his testimony, and his position is that her story is largely fabricated," he said.