You can check into Dubai — but there’s a chance you won’t check out, at least not for a year or so.R&B singer Trey Songz’s bodyguard Cornell Whitfield is the latest Western tourist to run afoul of the sharia-based judicial system in Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the federation of the United Arab Emirates. It’s a system critics say unfairly targets unwitting travelers, especially those perceived as having some money.Miami native Whitfield, 40, the father of a young son who has acted as a bodyguard for many celebrities including Lil’ Kim, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel, was sentenced to a year in prison last week for allegedly “slapping” a male fan who tried to reach out and touch Songz last March at a Dubai hotel.Whitfield is just one in a long line of Westerners who’ve found themselves facing a nightmare of red tape, arrests and sometimes lengthy detention for what appear to be largely spurious claims.Radha Stirling, who’s run the site Detained in Dubai since 2008 when she first helped a friend who was arrested in Dubai, has aided what she says has been “thousands” of tourists arrested on flimsy pretenses there. Stirling told The Post that most Westerners are naive about what awaits them in Dubai.Foreigners, she said, are targeted by both Dubai residents and expats there who know they can go to the police and make an accusation, often with no evidence, and immediately get the cops and local prosecutors on their side. The accusers often ask for large sums of money in exchange for dropping charges, she added. Many tourists opt to go to court, not realizing that judges almost automatically side with the accusers, even if they know the victims are being extorted.“Whoever takes the first police complaint is usually favored in the outcome,” Stirling told The Post. “So if I’m the one who takes a complaint to the police station, I’m probably going to win that criminal case. Visitors think Dubai is this modern, luxurious place and they assume the justice system is like the West’s when it most definitely is not.” Earlier this month, New York City college student Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos, 21, who had been sentenced to a year in prison, managed to get freed after a “hellish” five months in Dubai that began when she was arrested for touching a security guard’s arm at the airport in July.A 29-year-old Houston woman named Tiarra Allen, who was known online as the “Sassy Trucker,” managed to escape the country in August after being stranded in Dubai for months over an altercation at a car rental agency.Stirling’s organization helped both women win release.In 2022, a UK coroner said that the Foreign Office wasn’t doing enough to warn Britons about the risks of visiting Dubai after a London resident, Lee Bradley Brown, “probably” died from beatings and neglect while in police custody there. Brown had been arrested after a verbal altercation with hotel staffer in Dubai in 2011.Millionaire British businessman Albert Douglas, 62, a longterm UAE resident, has been jailed in Dubai since 2019 when he was arrested because his son’s flooring company failed there and officials deemed him responsible for the debts.Douglas has heart problems, his son Wolfgang Douglas told The Post, and has been tortured repeatedly while in Dubai prisons. So far the family has spent millions to try to get him out but nothing works, Wolfgang said.“If you’re a rich white person, forget it,” he said. “They blackmail you for money and keep raising the amount and adding on (prison) sentences. It’s a total nightmare.”The potential trouble facing tourists in Dubai is in odd and stark contrast to the massive $8.7 trillion economic program launched late last year by the emirate’s powerful ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, with billions going to prioritize tourism. Dubai is among a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula.Whitfield contacted Stirling when he returned to Dubai recently, completely unaware that he was in legal hot water stemming from an incident that took place in March in front of the Five Palm Jumeirah hotel.Whitfield was convicted of assault after he slapped a Jordanian man who was drunk and acting in a threatening and aggressive way toward Songz. The man initially demanded $60,000 to drop the criminal allegations, but Whitfield didn’t have the money. Stirling said he assumed the Dubai justice system was fair and would acquit him because he said he was acting in self-defense on behalf of his client. “His mood goes up and down,” Stirling said. “He’s hopeful that his lawyer will get him out on appeal but there’s no guarantee of that.”The Post has reached out to the UAE’s consulate in New York for comment.
27 Ekim 2023 - 14:05
Another American is jailed in Dubai as travelers warned over its ‘nightmare’ sharia courts
The star’s guard was sentenced to a year for allegedly “slapping” a male fan. Critics warn people who go do not know its justice system’s danger.
27 Ekim 2023 - 14:05