A British expat reportedly faces 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, campaign group Detained in Dubai reports.
The man, who is believed to be in his 50s, woke from the sleep and attacked the group as they tried to flee.
Police were immediately called and the 21-year-old was charged with assault and theft despite having no active in role in the 2016 incident.
Ms Hutchinson, who is originally from Chelmsford, Essex, now lives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and works as an account manager for a global transportation company.
‘It is so unfair, I was not involved’, Ms Hutchinson told Detained in Dubai.
‘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 was 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 the group was arrested, the men managed to get their passports back and returned to the UK, but the Swedish man discovered that Miss Hutchinson was a UAE resident and transferred charges to her.
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.’
Her plight comes only a month after the release of a Briton sentenced to three months in a Dubai jail for touching a man’s hip in a crowded bar.
Jamie Harron from Stirling, Scotland, was arrested in July over the incident in which he said he put his hand on a man’s hip to avoid spilling a drink in a crowded bar.
Describing Ms Hutchinson’s case, 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.’