Abu Dhabi sheik cleared in videotaped torture

Togo's soccer team withdrew from the African Cup of Nations at the insistence of their country's president and prime minister.
Togo's soccer team withdrew from the African Cup of Nations at the insistence of their country's president and prime minister. (Samuel Petrequin/associated Press)
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Monday, January 11, 2010


Sheik cleared in videotaped torture

A member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family was cleared Sunday of the torture and rape of an Afghan man in a case that embarrassed the Gulf emirate and raised questions over human rights.

The judge reading the verdict at a court in the United Arab Emirates did not give a reason that Sheik Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan was exonerated of responsibility for the abuse, shown in a video first made public on ABC last year.

But a lawyer for the sheik, a son of UAE founder Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, said his client was found to have "diminished liability" because, he said, two former business associates drugged him beforehand, then took the video to extort money from him.

The two men, Lebanese American brothers Bassam and Ghassan Nabulsi, were sentenced in absentia to five years and fined 10,000 dirhams ($2,723) for what the judge said was drugging, recording and publishing a video, and blackmail. The judge said the reasoning behind the verdicts would be published at a later date.

Mohammed Shah Poor, the Afghan grain trader abused in the video, showed no reaction when the verdicts were read. In the footage, which dates to 2004, the man is seen struck with an electric cattle prod, beaten with whips and a plank of wood with a nail in it, and driven over by a car at a desert location near the oasis of al-Ain.

A Nepalese security guard shown in the video was also acquitted. But a Syrian national was given one year in jail for the beating, and an Indian and a Palestinian were each sentenced to three years for sodomizing the man with a stick.

-- Reuters


American held, released by police

A U.S. citizen was held at an Iraqi police station for about three days last week, Iraqi security officials said on Sunday. David Bell, an employee of Global Freight Systems, a company with offices on a U.S. base in Baghdad, was arrested because Iraqi security forces thought he did not have proper documentation, a representative of the company in Iraq said by phone. He called the incident a "misunderstanding." Bell had U.S. military identification.

An Iraqi judge dismissed the case Sunday and an American was released from a holding cell at the al-Maamoun police station in western Baghdad, a policeman at the station said. The representative for the company, who did not provide his name, confirmed that Bell had been released.

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