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British man jailed in Dubai after row over £2 taxi fare

- 1509831185 ballantine 2 - British man jailed in Dubai after row over £2 taxi fare


A British man has told how he was jailed in Dubai for more than two months and trapped there for two years after a row over a £2 taxi fare.

David Ballantine, 46, also ended up homeless and slept in hotel toilets after his savings ran out while he waited for his court hearing in the UAE city.

He said his nightmare began when he jumped into a cab with his friends, before seconds later they told the driver to stop over confusion about which of the group was supposed to be in the car.

But the businessman said the driver kept going for nearly 150 feet before he stopped near a policeman, and complained to the officer, who told Mr Ballantine that he would have to pay for the trip.

Mr Ballantine claimed he got out and withdrew cash from an ATM just a few feet away to cover the AED 10 (£2) cost.

He said he dropped the money through the window of the car before he went back to his friends in the altercation in May, 2013.

But Mr Ballantine claimed the driver disputed that he had paid and jumped out of his taxi and attacked him before the police officer stepped in and arrested the British man.

He was later jailed for 69 days for supposedly not paying the fare, and accused of overstaying his visa when he appeared before court – despite the fact his passport had been confiscated.

Mr Ballantine, from Edinburgh, told the Daily Record: “He reversed the taxi aggressively back to where my group was.

“He accused me of not paying. I told him I had, and showed him where it was. He claimed that was his own money.

“He became more hostile until he physically attacked me.

‘‘I was worried. I was in a fight, in Dubai, where I knew the law could be harsh, and I knew the driver would be believed over the Westerner.”

Mr Ballantine was taken into custody and spent two years in the country while he waited for his trial.

He was convicted for not paying the taxi fare before being deported after serving out his 69-day jail term.

Mr Ballantine claimed the UK government did nothing to help him.

Radha Stirling, head of campaign group Detained in Dubai, helped Mr Ballantine throughout his ordeal.

He told the Daily Record: “He is part of a class action taken against the UK Government for failing in their duty of care to British citizens.”

Details of Mr Ballantine’s ordeal came after reports of a string of British nationals being harshly treated by authorities in Dubai.

They include Jamie Harron, from Stirling, who was sentenced to prison last month when a businessman accused him of touching his hip in a bar.

He was freed within days only after Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum ordered he should be exonerated.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office warns British visitors in the UAE to be vigilant.

Its website reads: “You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK.”

Independent

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Middle East

15 Civilians Killed, Injured in Turkish Strikes on Afrin: Official

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ERBIL — At least two civilians were killed and 13 others were wounded on Sunday as a result of the Turkish military assault on Afrin, northwest of Syria, a local official said.

Osama Sheikh Issa, co-chair of Afrin local administration told Kurdistan24 that what Turkey is trying to achieve is having revenge on the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fighter’s victory against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

“All of the casualties of the Turkish attacks were civil people who had nothing to do with the war” he pointed out.

Issa also asserted that the residents of Afrin are confidently staying in their city, but the displaced Syrian people who had found refuge in Afrin are in danger because of the Turkish assault on the city.

He further ensured that “none of the YPG and YPJ units have been targeted by the Turkish strikes, in deed all the attacks have been aimed at the homes of civilians in Afrin”.

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Middle East

Iran Calls on Turkey to Halt Afrin Operation

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ERBIL — The Islamic Republic of Iran has called on Turkey to halt the Afrin operation and respect Syria’s territorial integrity, said a spokesperson for Iranian Foreign Ministry.

According to Mehr News Agency, Bahram Ghasemi said that Iran is closely and concernedly following the current developments in the city of Afrin.

“Iran hopes that the operation will immediately come to an end to stop the deepening of the crisis in the border areas of Turkey and Syria” he added. 

“The continuation of the crisis in Afrin may further strengthen the takfirist-terrorist groups in the northern Syrian regions, and flare up the fires of war ” warned the Iranian foreign ministry.

Qasemi also drew attention to the Astana peace talks and stated that all countries, especially Turkey, are expected to remain committed to the political solution, especially Astana peace process, for the Syrian crisis and continue observing their commitments and playing their constructive role in the resolution of the crisis.

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Middle East

[Watch]: YPG Destroys Turkish Tank near Afrin

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ERBIL — The US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) released a footage on Sunday which shows them destroying a Turkish tank near the border city of Afrin.

The YPG fighters appear in the video destroying a Turkish tank with an anti-tank missile.

Turkey on Saturday launched a new air and ground operation on Afrin, a Kurdish city in the northwest of Syria, dubbed as the “Olive Branch Operation”.

The assault has so far left dozens killed and injured, including civilians and fighters from the both sides.

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