Two British men who spent time in detention in the United Arab Emirates have testified in Paris that an Emirati security official who is now the president of Interpol was responsible for their alleged torture.
Matthew Hedges, an academic imprisoned in the UAE for seven months on espionage charges he denies, and Ali Issa Ahmad, who was detained in Dubai for wearing a Qatar football shirt, testified before the investigating judge of the specialised judicial unit for crimes against humanity and war crimes of the Paris tribunal.
The pair allege that Maj Gen Ahmed Naser al-Raisi was personally responsible for the torture to which they were subjected while in detention.
“I told the judge about all the terrible things that happened to me when I was arrested in the UAE, about being cut on my body, punched by police officers, and all the other torture I suffered. This includes why I believe that al-Raisi is to blame, as he was the chief of the police and the prison service and so there was no way he didn’t know what was happening to me,” Ahmad told the Guardian after giving testimony.
The UAE interior ministry denied the accusations against al-Raisi. “The claims made against Dr Al Raisi are without merit. He and the UAE categorically reject the utterly baseless and unfounded accusations being made against him by these complainants,” a spokesperson said.
The former detainees’ testimony represents a step forward in an ongoing investigation into Raisi’s conduct prior to his election as Interpol president, and an unusual consequence of his assuming the presidency. While lawyers for Hedges and Ahmad have filed charges against him in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Turkey and France, it was only because Raisi is now required to regularly visit the Interpol headquarters in Lyon and therefore set foot on French soil that judges in Paris could proceed to investigate the charges against him.
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Photo: www.theguardian.com, Yesim Dikmen/Reuters