A Qatari doctor who was detained in the UAE some eight months ago on suspicion of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood has appeared in court today for the first time.
But the charges against Dr. Mahmood Abdulrehman Al Jaidah have yet to be read, and the case was adjourned until later in the month. In the interim, a judge has ordered that he be transferred to a “regular” prison amid complaints of ill treatment inside his current unknown quarters, where he is being held in solitary confinement.
According to Al Jaidah’s lawyer, who has been tweeting about the case, the decision to not inform the doctor of what crime he is accused of committing is unusual. In previous months, Abdullah Tahir has said Al Jaidah was accused of accepting an envelope with Dh100,000 (about QR100,000) from an Emirati to be handed over to another UAE citizen in Qatar.
While Qatar has strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the UAE does not.
In July, a UAE court sentenced 56 individuals affiliated with Al Islah, a banned local society linked to the Brotherhood, to prison for three to ten years over charges of trying to overthrow the government.
It appears that despite efforts to strengthen relations between the two Gulf countries, Al Jaidah’s cause is only exacerbating tensions for some locals:
Al Jaidah, the director of medical services at Qatar Petroleum, was arrested during a stopover in Dubai on Feb. 26 while flying home from Bangkok, where his family said he was seeking medical treatment.
The 52-year-old has since complained of being beaten by authorities, is said to have lost some 10kg since his arrest, and has very limited access to legal representation, according to relatives.
In an email to Doha News, daughter Maryam Al Jaidah said:
“He still did not meet his lawyer, not even once. We still don’t know what will happen. Hopefully he will be brought to justice.”
The video, which is primarily in Arabic, explains the circumstances surrounding Al Jaidah’s arrest, includes interviews of friends and colleagues vouching for his good character and discusses the toll his detention is taking on his family.
In it, son Hassan Al Jaidah, who studies geology in the UK, said (as translated into English):
“My father is not just a father. He is more like a brother or best friend. We have never had him away from the family for that long. It is very difficult. We used to hear about people losing a parent, but we never knew how hard it can be. We do not know when we will be reunited with him again.
Every time my 6-year-old sister see a plane in the sky, she goes out and looks at it, saying that dad is on it coming back home. It is heart-breaking to see her do that. We had no idea his absence would affect her that badly.
My father is not politicized. He has no political inclinations and never engaged in any political activities. No charges have been pressed against him yet. We do not know why he is being held.”
Meanwhile, human rights groups have called for Al Jaidah to either be transparently charged with a crime or released immediately.
In a statement issued on Nov. 1, Amnesty International said:
Qatari medical doctor, Mahmood al-Jaidah, was arrested by plain clothes United Arab Emirates (UAE) security officials while in transit at Dubai International Airport on 26 February 2013. Held in solitary confinement for 210 days, he told his family in sporadic visits that he had been subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation and forced to ingest unidentified liquid…
Father of eight children, Dr Mahmood al-Jaidah continues to be held in an unknown place by the UAE’s State Security, or Amn al-Dawla. Since his arrest, Dr Mahmood al-Jaidah’s due process rights, including the right to a lawyer of one’s own choosing and his right to challenge the lawfulness of his detention, have been flouted.
It added that any testimony that may have been obtained through torture should not be admissible as evidence.
The UAE has not publicly commented on the case. The next hearing will be Nov. 18.
Credit: Translation by Riham Sheble and Amin Isaac