Last updated: 6 July, 2012

UAE bails hunger-striking US fraud suspect

A Dubai court has freed on bail American Zack Shahin, who was in jail on fraud charges and has been on a hunger strike since May 14, media reported on Friday.

The National daily said Shahin was freed on Thursday and turned his passport over to the court, where he must make an appearance on July 23.

Shahin, at the time managing director of property developer Deyaar, was arrested in 2008 and charged the following year with embezzling more than 98 million dirhams (then $27 million).

He was also charged with taking bribes.

However, he has never been convicted of any offence and been held ever since.

On June 29, US charge d’affaires L. Victor Hurtado urged the United Arab Emirates to free him, saying there “serious concerns” about his health.

“We continue to urge the authorities to release him on bail, as has been approved but not carried out in the past. In addition, we urge that the several outstanding pending cases against Mr Shahin can be consolidated, allowing him to defend himself more effectively.”

The embassy said there are “significant concerns” over the case, including Shahin’s detention for more than a year without charge, failure to release him on approved bail requests and his apparent unequal treatment compared with others accused of financial crimes in the United Arab Emirates.