Dubai denies abuse allegation by Britons held on drug charges

LONDON/DUBAI Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:11pm GMT

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LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - Three Britons held in Dubai on drug charges say they were tortured by police after their arrest while on holiday in July 2012, a human rights group said on Wednesday, drawing a swift denial from authorities in the Gulf Arab emirate.

Grant Cameron, Karl Williams and Suneet Jeerh, all 25 years old, say police subjected them to beatings and threatened them with guns, according to Reprieve, a London-based legal charity which campaigns for prisoner rights.

Dubai police denied any torture had taken place. A source in the police said they were aware of the allegations and that they had had dealings with the British consulate regarding the case.

A neutral party was appointed to investigate if any torture had taken place but had found the claims to be untrue, the source said. Dubai's public prosecutor was also aware of the case and the investigation, the source added.

Reprieve said Williams had electric shocks administered to his testicles, adding that a Reprieve lawyer had met the three men in prison and drawn up draft witness statements.

"They pulled down my trousers, spread my legs and started to electrocute my testicles. It was unbelievably painful. I was so scared. Then they took off the towel and I could see that there was a gun pointed at my head," Williams was quoted as saying.

The three men say they were also forced to sign documents in Arabic, a language none of them speak, Reprieve said.

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office confirmed that Britain had been providing consular assistance to three British nationals detained in July 2012 in the United Arab Emirates.

"We have also been in close contact with Reprieve," he said.

Dubai has a vibrant tourism industry but strict laws governing public behaviour mean there are frequent cases of tourists falling afoul of the police, often over its drug and decency laws.

Last year, a British woman and Irish man accused of engaging in sexual activities in a Dubai taxi were sentenced to three months in prison and then deportation.

In 2008, a Dubai court sentenced Raymond Bingham, a British DJ better known as "Grooverider", to four years in jail for possession of marijuana. He was later pardoned and released after 10 months.

(Reporting By Mohammed Abbas in London, Mirna Sleiman in Dubai and Raissa Kasolowsky in Abu Dhabi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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