By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
DUBAI, UAE -- Guyanese businessman, Abul Kalam Azad Sattaur, has been held in jail in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, since August of last year, while travelling from Bangkok to Sao Paulo, Brazil, through Dubai, where he overnighted for a business meeting with an Afghan national.
Abul Kalam Azad Sattaur
Sattaur is currently being held without charges at the Marakabat Police Station in Dubai. He claims that in August 2011 he visited the hotel room of a businessman to arrange a deal for the sale of diamonds. Just after that, the police burst into the room and arrested both of them, according to Sattaur. They searched the businessman and found 40,000 counterfeit UAE currency notes in his possession. Sattaur was arrested as well and has been held in detention ever since.
The Guyanese still hasn’t been charged with any crime, but Emirates authorities are claiming that Sattaur had a forged US$100 bill in his possession.
Sattaur was born in Skeldon, Guyana, and travels on a Guyana passport, according to the Guyana Embassy in Kuwait. He is the owner of a diamond firm in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he is married to a Brazilian national and has children, all of whom live in Sao Paulo. On a regular basis, he travelled to the Far and Middle East before his arrest in Dubai, he revealed to Guyana’s ambassador to Kuwait, Dr Odeen Ishmael during several phone conversations. Sattaur is allowed to make phone calls from jail.
Last March, Sattaur contacted the Guyana Embassy in Kuwait, and that same month Ishmael made official contact with the UAE through their embassy in Kuwait City, seeking information about Sattaur, as to why he was arrested, and why he has not been charged after being held in detention for such a long time.
“Despite reminders, we have not obtained any response as yet,” the Guyana ambassador said.
This was followed by a visit to the UAE by Guyana’s Middle East envoy, George Hallaq, where the issue was again discussed with authorities there. Hallaq was told that charges would be instituted and that Sattaur would appear before a court. That hasn’t happened yet and has left many wondering why, after a year, Sattaur is still languishing in Emirati detention without charge being pressed.
And with UAE’s authorities silent on the case, questions are being raised as to their respect for international conventions that protect people from being detained indefinitely without charges.
Two weeks ago, Sattaur was taken before a judge in Abu Dhabi and was told that an attorney would be provided for him. However, there was no lawyer for him and no case has been made against him, Sattaur told Ishmael. However, not being able to get the Emirates’ version of events, some pieces of the drama may be missing.
One organisation in London, Fair Trials International, has shown interest in Sattaur’s situation and sent him paperwork more than two months ago, but he has not received it. Again, this brings into question the lack of transparency and inaction of the United Arab Emirates to address Sattaur’s plight.
With little success in getting the UAE authorities to address the issue, in light of the fact that Guyana is not a superpower, Sattaur's wife is expected to approach the Brazilian government to intervene. Brazil’s growing international influence, and being a member of the BRICS group, may push the government of the United Arab Emirates to act.