Monday, 26 October 2009

WTF? Swearing Aussie stranded in Dubai.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald
When Sun McKay was manhandled by a stranger in the arrivals hall at Dubai International Airport, he did what many young Australians would do. He swore.
"This guy in a blue shirt grabbed my wrist quite hard, pulled me towards him and started yelling at me in Arabic, and I just said: 'What the f---?'" Mr McKay said.
Unbeknown to Mr McKay, the man was a plainclothes airport policeman, and the 32-year-old private security consultant had just committed a crime.
Almost a month later, with his passport confiscated, Mr McKay remains stranded in the Emirate awaiting trial on charges of insulting and using inappropriate language to a police officer.
Mr McKay has already spent 15,000 dirham ($4500) on legal fees, with no end in sight.
"My lawyer and I will obviously push for a fine, but the penalties here can be straight away deportation or up to three years' imprisonment and then deportation."
A former Australia Defence Force member who has been working in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006, Mr McKay had visited Dubai about 20 times over the past three years without incident.
"I had no reason to know this guy was a policeman, because he had no insignia or anything."
When the officer produced ID, Mr McKay apologised, but to no avail.
"I was taken upstairs to a small room and interrogated, in quite a brutal way, for three hours. There was lots of yelling and gesticulating; they were smoking and blowing it at me. I was told repeatedly and very aggressively that this was not my country and that they could have me thrown in jail for what I had done."
Mr McKay said he asked for water, a translator and access to a phone, but was ignored. Despite continued apologies, he had his passport confiscated and was sent home at 3.30am.
Mr McKay's lawyer, Mohsen Mohamed Zin El Din, said that just getting a court date could take between three weeks and three months.
And once the criminal case is settled, the police officer could choose to launch a civil case against Mr McKay.
"Sun agreed that he was guilty," Mr Mohsen said. "It is not good for him. I told him to deny it."
Mr Mohsen said his client was most likely looking at a prison sentence of one month, plus court costs of 10,000 to 15,000 dirham, and compensation payments to the police officer.
Mr McKay said he had received little co-operation from Australian consular staff in Dubai, whom he accused of being “rude and abrupt”.
Consular staff met Mr McKay but said that he used “insulting and inappropriate language” towards them. Mr McKay denies this.
Mr McKay is living in a company-owned villa in Dubai's no-frills al-Rashida district.
"For the time being, they are allowing me to stay rent free, which is fantastic of them. But when I get out, I doubt I'll have a job any more. At one stage everyone was quite enjoying the joke. Now I am definitely not."
Mr McKay is the latest Australian to fall foul of authorities overseas, most notably in the Middle East.
In January, Australian citizen Nasrah Alshamery, 43, was arrested by Kuwaiti police after allegedly insulting the emir, Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Saba, during a row with airport officials.

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