Britons may face execution
By BBC News – Wednesday, 22 November, 2000
Copyright: BBC News
Drug trafficking is a growing problem in Dubai.
Five Britons are being held in the United Arab Emirates on suspicion of drug trafficking.
If found guilty they could face the death penalty.
The group are alleged to be members of a major international drug gang planning to bring consignments of hashish and cocaine into the Gulf states.
The arrests were made in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, in the north of the country. The five are in custody and have not yet been formally charged.
Of the five arrested, the UAE police say three are women and one is believed to be an air hostess with the Dubai-based Emirates Airlines.
Police investigating the allegations have also held an Australian woman and two Arab men.
The arrests followed a tip off that a large shipment of hashish was due to be brought into the country.
A big operation led to a large quantity of drugs being seized and several other arrests being made. Many of the Gulf states fear drug traffickers are targeting their countries.
Smugglers believe lack of alcohol and the relative wealth of the region makes it an ideal marketplace for drugs.
British Embassy staff in Dubai are being kept informed of the developments. A spokesman said it was unlikely the death penalty would be imposed if the suspects were found guilty.
A change in the law five years ago means drug traffickers can face execution. But no Westerner has been sentenced to death in the UAE in the last ten years.
But the growing threat of drugs in the region has stiffened political and public opinion. Courts are issuing sterner sentences for drug offenders.