London, Dec 21 (IANS) A gay man is resisting extradition to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where homosexuality is a crime, because he fears he could be tortured and punished disproportionately, the media reported on Monday.
The unusual case of Michael Halliday, 32, from the Midlands, who faces a theft charge in Dubai, is due to be decided by Westminster magistrates court this week.
“I’m extremely worried. If I was sent back I don’t believe I could defend myself in court or have a fair trial. The fact that I’m openly gay would mean that there would be prejudice against me,” Halliday told The Guardian.
“If I was found guilty then I’m worried they would add on extra charges and increase my sentence. The punishment (for being gay) is death in the UAE and 10 years in Dubai.”
The theft allegation relates to money said to have disappeared from a safe at a department store where Halliday formerly worked as an operations manager.
The formal request for his extradition was made by the UAE in June 2014.
He has denied the allegations. He said CCTV footage supported his case, and witness statements from two employees who had given evidence against him contained factual errors.
Halliday’s sexuality, referred to in legal submissions, “is now well known to both the authorities in Dubai and his former colleagues in Dubai”, according to court documents.
Over the past five years, there have been 43 cases of complaints by British nationals of torture or mistreatment within the UAE justice system.
Of those, 37 related to British nationals detained in Dubai and 19 of them alleged they had suffered physical beatings.