Sunday 22 April 2018

British woman faces jail after 'seeing fight over selfies' in Dubai hotel

Undated handout photo issued by Detained in Dubai of Asa Hutchinson, a young British expat who is said to be facing jail in Dubai after witnessing a fight between her friends and a stranger in a hotel lobby. Photo: PA Wire
Undated handout photo issued by Detained in Dubai of Asa Hutchinson, a young British expat who is said to be facing jail in Dubai after witnessing a fight between her friends and a stranger in a hotel lobby. Photo: PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A young British expat is said to be facing jail in Dubai after witnessing a fight between her friends and a stranger in a hotel lobby.

Asa Hutchinson was with a group of men when they attempted to take selfies with a drunk Swedish man who was asleep on a sofa, according to campaign group Detained in Dubai.

The man, aged in his 50s, woke up and attacked them as they tried to flee.

Police were called and the 21-year-old was charged with assault and theft, despite playing no active role in the incident in 2016, the group said.

Originally from Chelmsford, Essex, Ms Hutchinson now lives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is an account manager for a global transportation company.

She is being represented by Detained in Dubai, which has helped in legal battles involving other British nationals.

She told the organisation: "It is so unfair, I was not involved.

"I just happened to be there, but the police are not interested in anything I have to say.

"Once the man made his complaint it was taken as fact. I can't go to jail, I couldn't cope."

Ms Hutchinson had been leaving brunch with a group of friends when the altercation occurred.

"The man woke up and began punching the boys," she said.

"I heard the commotion and came back to see what was going on."

After calling the police, the entire group was arrested and taken to Bur Dubai police station.

Detained in Dubai said the men managed to get their passports back and they returned to the UK.

But the Swedish man discovered Miss Hutchinson was a UAE resident and transferred charges to her, according to the organisation

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, said: "In Dubai, if two parties are in dispute or arguing, the first person to speak to the police is usually the one who is believed.

"Often it is a race to get to the police first. By making this complaint, the man may have been safeguarding himself from being charged himself.

"Also, it is clear in this case that Asa was a bystander, not involved with the fight and is only being victimised because the alleged culprits have left the country."

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "Our staff in Dubai assisted a British woman following an incident in 2016, and are ready to provide further help if requested."

Press Association

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