DUBAI // An Australian private security consultant who was on his way from Afghanistan has been fined Dh2,000 (US$545) for swearing at a police officer. Dubai Court of Misdemeanours ordered SM to pay the fine after he denied charges filed against him on December 9. He was arrested at Dubai International Airport on October 11 while en route to London. He had faced a possible six-month jail term and a Dh5,000 fine.
"[He] was in transit on his way to London when he tried to use an ATM machine at the airport," his lawyer, Nasser Hashim of Al Kamali Advocates and Legal Consultants, told the court. "He was irate and tired and when the officer came to him he had no intent to offend him or insult him." SM allegedly used foul language when the officer grabbed him from behind. "We explained to the court that the words used were not to offend anyone.
The plaintiff just understood the words out of context and thought it was a direct insult to him," Mr Hashim said. SM testified that when he arrived from Afghanistan at about 8pm he headed to the ATM. He said that a man in a blue uniform, who did not identify himself as a police officer, blocked his way and told him he could not use the machines. The officer, HR, contradicted SM's statement before prosecutors and said SM was trying to go into the arrivals hall without giving a reason. HR said that he told SM he needed permission before proceeding. The officer then said SM asked to speak with his supervisor and then swore in public. HR said he was cursed at and was insulted.
Mr Hashim told the court on December 9 that SM did not have any criminal intent. Furthermore, he said, the Australian consulate in Dubai issued a letter of apology to Dubai Police. The consulate expressed its respect and appreciation to Dubai Police and its staff, said Mr Hashim, who gave a copy of the apology to the court. The case has gained extensive international media coverage. A UK-based charity, Detained in Dubai, which raises funds to help expatriates who have been held or imprisoned pending trial, had asked for the release of SM.
"After months of waiting to see whether he would go to jail for swearing in public, after having been grabbed and shouted at, [SM] can finally breathe a sigh of relief," said Radha Sterling, the organisation's founder. "While he would have preferred being found innocent of the charges, he is delighted that he will be able to return home to Australia, his friends and family. "I am very happy with every verdict that does not result in a prison sentence," she said. "However, I question whether justice has been done, when [SM] was detained in Dubai for several months, worrying about whether he would be sent to jail and wasting his life savings on local legal fees."