Update: The ruler of Dubai has now freed Jamie Harron. Read more here.
Jamie Harron, an electrician from Scotland, has been sentenced to three months in jail for accidentally brushing past another man in a Dubai nightclub.
Harron, 27, was arrested in July after he walked through the crowded Rock Bottom bar and briefly touched the man’s hip to avoid spilling his drink.
The man, who has been identified as Emad Tabaza, the Managing Director of German company Neuman & Esser, called the police and accused Haron of touching him “inappropriately”.
Harron’s planned two-day stopover in Dubai has since turned into a nightmare. On Sunday, he was found guilty of public indecency and sentenced to three months in prison.
According to the group Detained in Dubai, key witnesses to the incident were not called upon by the court to testify.
Stuck in the city since his arrest, Harron has lost his job and has been forced to take on thousands of pounds of debt to cover his legal fees. He may also lose his home.
Harron will appeal the verdict but this will further add to his financial strain.
“There is no telling whether a judgment on appeal will be better or worse,” commented Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai (DID). “His family was unable to visit him during this critical time because they faced a very real risk of imprisonment themselves under the UAE’s cybercrime laws which forbid criticism of the government.”
Stirling said that Harron “is angry, disappointed, and dreads what may happen next. He feels betrayed and exploited by the system, which did not investigate the reports of key witnesses in his defence and led him to believe that the case would be dropped.”
Stirling revealed that Harron plans to pursue civil action against his accuser when he eventually returns home.
Despite reports that Tabaza had dropped his complaint against the British man, there is no record of this being the case, said DID. Shockingly, Tabaza’s German employer appeared to support its MD and his allegations in a statement.
“[Harron] can’t understand why a company like Neuman & Esser came out so publicly to repeat the defamatory allegations of Mr Tabaza, and he is intent on pursuing further legal action,” added Stirling.
Writing on its Facebook group, DID reported that Neuman & Esser has come under fire from the public, with the company receiving threats over its response to the incident as well as demands for it to fire Tabaza.
Homosexuality is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, which includes the emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah and Sharjah. Possible punishment includes imprisonment, fines, deportation, and the death penalty as well as hormone treatment and chemical castration.