Amnesty International calls for an investigation into the death of a Lebanese in an Emirati prison

Amnesty International calls for an investigation into the death of a Lebanese in an Emirati prison
Amnesty International calls for an investigation into the death of a Lebanese in an Emirati prison

During the month of March alone, the UAE authorities arrested 10 Lebanese members of the Shiite sect without charging them, said Sima Walting of Amnesty International.

Among them is Ghazi Ezz El-Din (50 years old), who was arrested on March 22 with his two brothers.

A spokesman for the Committee of Lebanese Detainees in the UAE, Abu al-Fadl Shoman, said, “Ghazi died in detention on the fourth of May.”

The family was not informed of the death of Ghazi, who had lived in the Emirates for more than 30 years, until five days after his death.

According to Amnesty, the authorities contacted the son of the deceased and asked him to come to identify his father’s body, but they only allowed him to see his face.

“It appears that the UAE authorities are trying to hide the real cause of death and cover up the case,” Waltning said.

The authorities also refused to hand over the body of the deceased to his family for transportation and burial in Beirut. Rather, they buried him in Dubai in the presence of his arrested son and two brothers, who were later released but prevented from traveling, according to Amnesty International.

Walting considered, “It is very suspicious that the authorities allow Ibn Ghazi to identify him by showing his face only, in addition to their refusal to hand over the body to the family for return and burial in Lebanon, and to bury him and demand that the family remain silent about the matter.”

And she stressed the need for the UAE authorities to conduct an investigation in the case to reveal the cause of death.

Walting called on the UAE authorities to release the other detainees “unless there is evidence that they committed a crime, in accordance with international law,” and to ensure that they can communicate with their lawyers and families and obtain the necessary medical care.

“The UAE has a record of arbitrary detention, and in previous cases this has resulted in unfair trials and long prison sentences,” Walting said.

UAE authorities have not issued a statement on the matter, and the Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment from AFP.

Over the past years, the UAE has arrested several Lebanese, the overwhelming majority of whom are from the Shiite community, accusing them of dealing with Hezbollah, which it, along with other Gulf states, classifies as a “terrorist”.

And in May 2019, an Emirati court sentenced a Lebanese to life in prison, and to ten years in prison for others, after convicting them of planning attacks for Hezbollah.

A mediation led by Lebanon with the UAE in 2021 resulted in the release of at least ten Lebanese detainees in the UAE. Seven Lebanese are still under arrest, including those sentenced to life or long years in prison, according to the Detainees Committee.