x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hunger strike prisoner put on drip in hospital

Oliver Loeb, a married father of one, has been refusing to eat since April 18 as a protest against his three-year prison sentence for bounced cheques.

DUBAI // A prisoner who has been on hunger strike for almost a month was taken to hospital on Friday after collapsing at court the day before.

Olivier Loeb, 51, from Belgium, was placed on a glucose drip at Rashid Hospital at 6.12pm, a family member said.

A member of staff handling admissions at the hospital confirmed that Loeb had been treated as an emergency case.

"He looked very ill," said the family member. "He refused the glucose drip at first but I persuaded him to take it.

"I spoke to the doctor and he told me to convince him. They said he has two more days and he is gone."

Loeb, a married father of one, has been refusing to eat since April 18 as a protest against his three-year prison sentence for bounced cheques. He has been refusing liquids since May 8, the family member said.

It is understood that he resumed his hunger strike when he was returned to jail on Friday evening.

The family member, who declined to be named, had doubts about whether the protest would succeed.

"I don't know if this will work," she said. "He might pass away before anything can change. He has said if there's no resolution, he would prefer to die. I'm stuck in the middle and I don't know what to do."

A prison official, Brig Omar Al Attar, denied that Loeb would have been taken to a hospital. "We have our own hospital," he said. "We don't need to take them outside."

He also said that the prisoner was not on a hunger strike, describing news reports to the contrary as "propaganda".

"He's as normal as anyone else," he said. "He's eating his food and he's OK. Lots of people make up stories for nothing."

 

mcroucher@thenational.ae