x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Hunger strike prisoner in hospital

The 51-year-old, who has been on hunger strike since April 16, was transferred to a medical centre at Dubai Police headquarters.

DUBAI //A Belgian prisoner has been hospitalised after apparently being on hunger strike at Dubai Central Prison for nearly two weeks.

Oliver L told The National last week that he was joining the hunger strike of his Irish cellmate, Christopher Renehan, to protest against cheque fraud laws.

The Belgian ministry of foreign affairs said they were monitoring the inmate's well-being.

"We contacted the prison hospital and they have updated us about [Oliver's] condition," said Mr Joren Vandeweyer, the deputy spokesman at the ministry.

"The Dubai prison has assured us he is doing better and was returned to his cell, as well as the fact that on Sunday he had a court appearance.

"What concerns us since is his hunger strike, and we are closely monitoring his situation so that he receives medication and assistance if he chooses so."

Oliver's wife said yesterday that her husband collapsed on Saturday morning. The 51-year-old, who has been on hunger strike since April 16, was transferred to a medical centre at Dubai Police headquarters.

"He is very sick and ill because he is not eating. He is getting weaker and could not stand up," she said.

Mr Renehan's father, Michael, said he spoke to his son on Sunday and heard that the strike was continuing.

"When you start going to the third or fourth week, that's when you'll notice the body getting damaged," he said. "We are all very upset. I'm going to try to go to Dubai this week to talk to him."

Three Pakistani men also joined the strike last week. An official from the Pakistani consulate said the men were taking part despite the consulate's efforts to dissuade them.

"We met with the prisoners, who have all been sentenced for financial and bank-related cases, and told them not to enter into a hunger strike but they insisted," said the welfare and community attache, Dr Riaz Hussain Laang. "We told them we will look at their demands but informed them of the correct procedures and advised them to abide by the laws of the UAE."

Lt Col Abdel Hakim Al Munser, director of Dubai Central Prison's male section, maintained yesterday that no prisoners were on hunger strike.

"They are all in good condition and have not been in a strike because they have been eating," he said.

amustafa@thenational.ae