By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
DUBAI, UAE -- In a dramatic turn of events in the ongoing ordeal of Guyana national Abdul Kalam Sattaur, a diamond trader based in Brazil and who had been in a Dubai jail since last August for alleged possession of a forged US$100 bill, Sattaur was released from detention on Sunday morning.
Abul Kalam Azad Sattau
A police officer reportedly visited Sattaur’s cell, and told him to pack all his belongings. When Sattaur inquired, the officer told him that he was found guilty of being in possession of a forged US$100 bill and had been sentenced to a year in prison. However, the officer added, since Sattaur had been in detention since August last year, he would be released and deported, Sattaur revealed to Guyana’s ambassador in Kuwait, Dr Odeen Ishmael, in a telephone conversation.
The officer took Sattaur’s airline ticket to make arrangements for his deportation to Guyana. Sattaur has now been moved to the Dubai Central Jail to await deportation.
Legally, Sattaur served more than a year in jail, since a one-year sentence is actually nine months and he had been in jail since last August. His one-year sentence would therefore have expired last May and there is some concern that this could be another ploy to keep Sattaur languishing in UAE’s Central Jail instead of deporting him immediately to Guyana.
Sattaur said he is relieved that he will be sent home, yet is astonished over the way "justice" was meted out. He never met the lawyer assigned to his case, he never saw the evidence against him, he never appeared before a judge to plead his case and, curiously, no one ever checked the money he had in his possession, yet the authorities claimed he had a forged US$100 bill.
In a case that has been shrouded in secrecy and an apparent violation of international human rights conventions by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), questions have been raised as to the type of justice system that exists in the UAE. It has also shed light on the lack of transparency and accountability of the UAE to disclose information to another member state of the United Nations. Fortunately, Sattaur was eventually able to make contact with Ambassador Ishmael at the Guyana Embassy in Kuwait who began monitoring his ordeal on a daily basis.
The UAE acted only after this case attracted media attention when it was first made public by Caribbean New Now, and subsequent follow up stories.