A gay man is resisting extradition to Dubai where homosexuality is illegal
Michael Halliday, 32, from the Midlands, faces a theft charge in Dubai and Westminster magistrates court is due to decide this week if he will be extradited.
The theft allegation relates to money said to have disappeared from a safe at a department store where Halliday worked. The formal request for his extradition was made by the UAE in June 2014.
Hailliday, who worked as an operations manager on the site, denies the accusation.
He told the Guardian newspaper: “I’m extremely worried. If I was sent back I don’t believe I could defend myself in court or have a fair trial. The fact that I’m openly gay would mean that there would be prejudice against me.
Hailliday argues CCTV footage supported his case, and witness statements from two employees who had given evidence against him contained factual errors. “In a UK court of law it would be fairly clear that there’s no real evidence. My mother has had to take out a mortgage to pay for my legal representation. If I am sent out to Dubai I won’t be able to pay her back.”
In the past five years there have been 43 cases of complaints by British nationals of torture or mistreatment within the UAE justice system. Of those, 37 related to British nationals detained in Dubai and 19 of them alleged they had suffered physical beatings.
An independent expert sent to Dubai by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is acting as legal agent for the UAE in the case, was refused access to inspect prison conditions.
In Dubai Gay sex, or “consensual sodomy” between males, as it is defined, is punishable by death.
Halliday’s sexuality, “is now well known to both the authorities in Dubai and his former colleagues in Dubai,” according to court documents.
“Discrimination against people of foreigners poses a serious risk,” it is argued. “He has no friends or family in the UAE to assist him while he is detained or to ensure that he has appropriate access to legal representation.”
Halliday’s barrister, Ben Cooper, has told the court that his client would be unlikely to receive a fair trial and would be at risk of disproportionate punishment and ill-treatment. “There is the additional real risk of torture prolonging the pre-trial period of incarceration and his ability to participate in any trial,” Cooper said.
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