Three New Zealand citizens held for more than two months in
the United Arab Emirates on drugs charges are due to appear
in court today.
Four New Zealanders were arrested in the December 19 drugs
bust in Sharjah, however one has since been released, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) confirmed.
All four were living in UAE. Formal charges have not yet been
laid by the authorities, an MFAT spokeswoman said.
"We have been advised that the next court hearing is
scheduled for 24 February.
"Consular representatives from the New Zealand
Consulate-General in Dubai have visited the detained New
Zealanders on three occasions to check on their health and
well-being, and provide consular support.
"As is the case with all legal proceedings involving New
Zealand citizens, the Ministry cannot comment on the ongoing
legal process or interfere in the judicial proceedings of
Consular staff in Dubai were continuing to provide updates
and advice to the families of the detainees concerned, the
"The Consulate-General's role is to monitor the New Zealand
citizens' welfare and ensure that they have the same rights
as other detainees in the United Arab Emirates."
The UAE has strict laws concerning drugs offences. In 2012,
Briton Nathaniel Lees was sentenced to death by firing squad
and spent time on death row after selling less than an ounce
of cannabis. His fate remains unclear.
Despite the strict sentences, death penalties in the UAE are
automatically reviewed by the Appeal Court, then the Supreme
Court and finally by the Court of Cassation, the Telegraph
Usually, 19 judges consider the punishment and if one
dissents, the capital sentence is quashed.
The country's leaders can also veto the ultimate punishment.
Of the around 12 people who have received capital sentences
for drugs offences since 2007, none have been executed.