x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Filipino says seeds were grape

A man imprisoned on drug charges appeals against the guilty verdict issued by a Dubai court.

DUBAI // A man imprisoned on drug charges is appealing against the guilty verdict issued by a Dubai court this month, insisting that seeds found inside his bag were grape seeds. The Filipino, identified as GFR, 34, was sentenced by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance to 10 years in prison and fined Dh50,000 (US$14,000) for drug possession, according to Ahmed Bajunaid, a Philippine consulate officer in Dubai.

The initial ruling, handed down on May 14, had to be appealed within 15 days. An appeal was registered on May 18, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled, according to a public prosecution source. Ellene Sana, executive director of the Centre for Migrant Advocacy in Quezon City, Philippines, said the agency had written a follow-up letter to the foreign affairs department in Manila and Benito Valeriano, the consul general in Dubai, to request legal representation. The defendant's sister in the Philippines said on Sunday that the family had hired a lawyer to represent him.

GFR's wife, who is working in Dubai, declined to speak to the media about the case, explaining that she still had to consult with the lawyer. But she wrote a "case summary" claiming the alleged drugs found in his bag were actually grape seeds left from several months earlier. rruiz@thenational.ae