An inquest heard testimony that a British tourist died at a Dubai police station after being “beaten and malnourished by guards.”
Businessman Lee Brown, 39, was killed, and his family claimed that British authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) did not do enough to stop it.
They charge that the Foreign Office placed his wellbeing behind the interests of diplomacy.
According to representatives of the Gulf state, Mr. Brown beat himself up after “throwing his arms about.”
However, other prisoners had phoned the family at considerable personal danger to warn them that he was being starved and assaulted by police and required assistance right now or he would die.
On April 6, 2011, Mr. Brown took a plane to the Gulf state with the intention of stopping there for a few days on route to see his girlfriend in Indonesia.
He reportedly attacked a maid at the Burj Al Arab Hotel the next day before being transported to the Bur Dubai police station, where he passed away five days later, according to information provided to Walthamstow Coroner’s Court.
No video of the alleged encounter or his stay at the police station has ever been produced by UAE authorities, despite requests, the inquest jury was informed.
Mr. Brown, who hails from the east London district of Dagenham and enjoys travel, was thinking of converting to Islam in order to wed his fiancée, with whom he had been dating for about a year.
He would put in seven-day work weeks managing his construction, painting, and decorating company to save money for international travel.
After being detained, Mr. Brown said in a statement that someone who wasn’t a hotel employee had entered and shoved him out.
He said there were 20 people in his room when he got back, and he was subsequently attacked and hauled to the police station while still just wearing his underpants.
On April 8, he was brought to the public prosecutor’s office, where it is claimed that he injured his face, arm, and chest insignificantly by falling to the ground and jumping into chairs.
After that, he was imprisoned for four days, during which time his health became worse.
His brother Steve and sister-in-law Susanne got a terrified phone from another jailed Briton on the evening of April 11 informing them that their relative was “in a very poor position” and in danger of passing away while in detention.
The prisoner advised: “You need to obtain assistance.” Lee could pass away if it goes on.
They said Mr. Brown was shackled in solitary confinement and had blood on his forehead from an injury.
He has been severely assaulted by the cops, and he is in a terrible state, they continued.
“Get assistance, and have the British Embassy ask for assistance right now.”
The same prisoner contacted Susanne the next morning about 2am and said, “Did you call the Embassy? He has been severely beaten, is on the floor unconscious, and requires assistance. They have him in isolation.
He was severely abused by the Dubai police, denied food or drink, and shackled in solitary confinement. He seems to be asleep and is slipping in and out of consciousness while wearing shackles around his ankles.
He has a cut to his head’s temple region and blood is streaming from his nose wound down his face and chest.
The French-speaking prisoner said, “You have to seek treatment for him, he hasn’t eaten or drunk in days.”
After both conversations, his sister-in-law promptly phoned the Foreign Office, but reports that the representatives were ‘dry’ and uncommunicative’ with the family.
Only a few hours later, a representative from the Foreign Office went to the jail but was informed Mr. Brown was sleeping and was sent away.
Days after Lee’s passing, Steve and Susanne took a flight to Dubai, visited the police station, the prosecutor’s office, and the hotel within 24 hours, and then returned since they couldn’t bear to be there.
Susanne said before the court that their discussion with a police station employee was “vague and disconnected” and that their requests to see CCTV were denied.
When the couple sought to examine the CCTV tape, they were informed that it was “too grainy” and that Mr. Brown had beat himself up “by swinging his arms about.”
Despite informing us that security camera video from the police station showed him flinging himself about and hurting himself repeatedly, Susanne said to the coroner, “This is something he kept doing and repeating.”
They also went to see the top prosecutor, who is said to have been “very crazy” and given a “bizarre presentation” to the family.
Once again, they were not permitted to see the video.
He informed me [after his death] that the charges against him were being dropped, and he implied that we should be glad for this since they might have continued to charge him after his death.
He only desired that we go.
There are a lot of unresolved issues about the events leading up to his death, she said.
I think the UK government did nothing to save his life and that he was malnourished, abused, and allowed to die in the horrible conditions of solitary confinement.
‘Very little would be known about what happened to Lee if the convicts had not phoned,’ the statement goes.
‘As a family, it really concerns us that Dubai is portrayed as a very safe location to visit and go to. It is a friendly nation – it’s not like Afghanistan, where we trade with them and there are treaties in place – and it is a safe country to come to for a vacation.
I’m not sure whether people are aware that if anything went wrong, they would get very little help.
I think the guards beat him to death when he was being held at the police station, Steve said in his story.
‘My brother may still be alive today if the embassy had insisted on the matter and swiftly traveled to visit him in person.
“I am worried that maintaining cordial ties with their hosts is more essential to embassy officials than ensuring the protection of British citizens.”
“Every piece of information came from inmates and well-wishers at tremendous personal danger to themselves, and I feel disappointed down that it wasn’t the Foreign Office,” the author said.
He said, “He was a highly industrious guy with a desire for travel,” in a statement that the coroner read aloud.
He would put in a lot of overtime, take as much time off as his resources would allow, and then come back to repeat the cycle.
He was composed and kind. He had no vices other than a little wagering on the horse races.
He was described as being a friendly, everyday guy who was adored by his family.
He suffered with depression between 2001 and 2004 when his father passed away from a stroke while he was holding him, according to GP documents given before jurors.
His sister-in-law informed the coroner that the only plausible reason for his claimed behavior at the hotel was a mental health crisis despite the fact that he had no medical ailments and wasn’t taking any medicine before he departed for Dubai.
The east London area coroner Nadia Persaud is presiding over the jury inquest, which will likely continue until Friday.