Safi Qurashi, the London-born businessman jailed in Dubai on cheque fraud and currently awaiting a new trial date, has hit out at the British establishment for failing to offer him support in fighting his case.
Qurashi rose to prominence when he paid US$60m for a manmade island in the shape of Great Britain on Nakheel’s ‘The World’.
Sentenced to seven years in jail for cheque fraud in 2010, Dubai’s Attorney General has referred his case back to the courts after an expert review of evidence found the cheques should not have been cashed and should have been returned to him.
With his new hearing set for July 23, Qurashi has hit out at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), claiming they have failed to offer him support in fighting his case.
Speaking to Arabian Business from his Dubai jail Mr Qurashi said:
“They have done absolutely zero. The British Embassy hides behind the simple fact that it does not interfere in another country’s legal process, unless you can prove ‘due process’ has not been followed.”
According to the website ‘justiceformydad.com’, which was set up by his two daughters, FCO officials in Dubai and the UK have told Qurashi’s family their policy requires an Emirati lawyer to state in writing to officials at the British Embassy in Dubai that ‘due process’ has not followed in their trials.
In August 2011, Qurashi’s Emirati lawyer provided embassy officials in Dubai with a letter and a diplomatic note was sent to the UAE authorities, the website claimed. However, since then, Qurashi claimed British officials have changed their position and have stated that they are no longer able to pursue his case.
“They didn’t act upon it… they did nothing. They never hired a legal expert to look into my case or looked at any of the legal documents I sent to London. They should have hired a legal consultant to look and see whether there is a problem with due process.”
Qurashi collapsed last month following a hunger strike, which lasted more than 40 days and saw him lose an estimated 33 pounds in body weight. He came off hunger strike when he was given his new court hearing.
Mr Quarishi added:
“They pretend to look after my welfare. When I collapsed they did nothing about it… The Ambassador, in two and half years and after 150 requests from me and my family, has refused to meet me or my family. ‘Unavailable’ is the only answer we get,”
In response to criticisms by Qurashi and his family, the FCO in London claimed the British embassy has offered Qurashi advice on obtaining local legal assistance to pursue his case.
On July 2, Qurashi’s family submitted a bail application to Dubai authorities to have him released ahead of his July 23 hearing and they are currently awaiting a response.
Mr Qurashi concluded:
“They have seen I have spent two and half years in jail and seen I am innocent … What I am saying is, I don’t care how long it takes, release me on bail, that is what I am after.”