Sunday 17 February 2019

Princess Latifa: Friend 'more concerned than relieved' at photos of Robinson meeting

Worried: Tiina Jauhiainenhic was the princess’s martial arts teacher and close friend
Worried: Tiina Jauhiainenhic was the princess’s martial arts teacher and close friend
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

The woman who helped Princess Sheikha Latifa in her reported bid to escape from Dubai has said she still does not know if her friend is safe, after the princess was visited by former President Mary Robinson.

Ms Robinson has been at the centre of controversy in recent days after she visited Dubai and had lunch with Princess Latifa.

The princess, daughter of the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, had not been seen in public since reports she had been recaptured near the Indian coastline.

Contacted by the Irish Independent, Latifa's close friend Tiina Jauhiainen told of her mixed emotions as she finally heard news of the princess's whereabouts after a long period of silence.

The pair have not seen each other since they reportedly fled Dubai on the yacht Nostromo, and were captured by Indian and Emirati commandos.

Ms Jauhiainen, who first met the princess in 2010, said: "Seeing the photos gave me a sense of relief because it validated the past and showed that she was still alive.

"However, it left me with an overwhelming feeling of confusion as to what it means for the future."

Ms Jauhiainen, who was hired as Princess Latifa's Capoeira martial arts instructor and became a close friend, added: " I still don't know if she's safe - or whether she is being detained against her will. That uncertainty makes me feel incredibly sad."

Ms Jauhiainen was struck by the appearance of her friend in the pictures with Ms Robinson publicised on the news wires.

"The photos left me more concerned than relieved, as Latifa clearly looks unhappy and shaken."

Ms Robinson insisted in recent days that she travelled to Dubai to meet Latifa "in good faith".

She has written a report of her visit to Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

But the nature of the visit has been criticised by the advocacy groups Human Rights Watch and Detained in Dubai.

Contacted by the Irish Independent, Ms Robinson's spokewoman Bride Rosney said the former president "is declining to make any further comment on this issue at this time".

Irish Independent

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