British man jailed in Dubai for carrying too many pills

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Perry Coppins, 61, was stopped by customs officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 1 November for having “too many pills” on him.

The father-of-three said he was carrying legal anti-anxiety medication and prescription documents for a six-month ship voyage. He is unable to leave the country until his trial on 15 January.

Mr Coppins said he is “terrified” he could be denied medical care in prison. The maritime security officer, from Eastwood in Nottinghamshire, was due to complete six months’ work on a ship.

He said he was carrying a supply of Temazepam, Clonazepam and Citalopram to last for the duration of the posting. The drugs are legal in the UAE when carried with prescription documentation, but despite having the papers he was jailed for five weeks.

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Detained in Dubai said Mr Coppins, who has since been diagnosed with prostate cancer, was denied medical treatment while in custody, causing a rapid deterioration in his condition. His passport has been confiscated while he awaits trial, and he has also lost his job.

Mr Coppins’s daughter Pia criticised the UAE authorities, and said denying her father cancer treatment is “like giving him a death sentence”. “Nobody should be treated like this,” she said. “He is not a young man and he needs medical help.”

Radha Stirling, from Detained in Dubai, said UAE laws on medicines “are often vague” and enforced by officials making “uneducated, arbitrary judgment calls”.

“It is disappointing to see that in spite of being aware of how often these arrests occur, the UAE government has done nothing to make their statutory legislation more clear, and train their law enforcers,” she said. “Two cases of exactly the same facts could both have completely different outcomes depending on how the authorities feel like dealing with the matter.

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“Without more clarity in the law and training of law enforcement authorities, detentions like Perry’s will continue.” Ms Radha also described denying Mr Coppins cancer treatment as “an absolute violation of his human rights” and called for his immediate release.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed they were in contact with the UAE authorities.

Source Credit: BBC

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