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Pardoned prisoners stuck in jail due to financial woes

Cannot leave prison if money is not repaid

Gulf News

Dubai: A number of prisoners at Dubai's Central Jail who were recently pardoned are still languishing in jail because they cannot pay their financial dues.

Earlier this month the government ordered the release of 334 inmates from the Penal and Correctional Institutions in Dubai on the occasion of Eid Al Adha.

Police officials said a Ruler's pardon exempts inmates from serving a prison term but does not exempt them from paying their dues or loans to individuals or banks.

Major-General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police, told Gulf News a number of inmates usually receive pardons from Rulers on various occasions such as Ramadan, Eid and National Day.

"Some of those pardoned prisoners cannot leave the jail because they are pardoned only on the common right which is the jail term and not on the civil rights."

Major-General Al Mazeina said those who commit minor offences are the ones who are pardoned. The prisoner must also have served more than half of their jail term.

A number of prisoners told Gulf News they had been pardoned but their release was on the condition they settle their financial dues.

Repaying debts

H.A, a Bangladeshi who was sentenced to a year in jail followed by deportation for stealing an internet connection, said he had to pay Dh300 to be released.

"I have no money and I do not know from where the internet connection was stolen so I cannot get a pardon from them," he said.

Another Chinese prisoner, identified as Z.L, who was sentenced to a year in jail to be followed by deportation for robbery said he was pardoned, but cannot afford to pay his debts.

M.A, a Pakistani was sentenced to one year in jail to be followed by deportation for stealing an internet connection, said he must pay Dh500 to be able to go back to his country. M.Kh.M, a Pakistani, was sentenced to one year in jail followed by deportation must pay Dh700 for stealing an internet connection.

J.L from China was sentenced to two years in jail followed by deportation for robbery and he has served one year and two months in jail. "I will not be released until I pay Dh1,300," he said.

Dubai Brigadier Ali Abdullah Alwan, Chief of Ajman Police, said the Rulers' pardon only applies to jail terms, but not the prisoners' financial obligations.

"Prisoners sentenced to serve a jail term also must settle their victims' financial dues and cannot leave the prison even if they are pardoned," he said.

Brigadier Abdullah Mubarak Al Dukhan, Deputy Chief of Sharjah Police, said the prisoner must be of good conduct, a first-time inmate or have served most of their jail term.

"If a pardon is decided by the authority, the police chief will set a special committee. The director of the jail will prepare a list of the name of prisoners to be pardoned. This list will be checked by the CID police director and other members of the committee before sending it to the respective Ruler for approval," Brigadier Al Dukhan said.

Blood money

Brigadier Al Dukhan said if the judge gave an accused a jail term, which is the government right and also ordered them to pay financial dues to the victim or the civil right the pardon is applied only on the common right. He said sometimes compensation helps prisoners settle their financial dues.

"People help in paying blood money for prisoners but not the prisoners involved in robbery and theft cases," he said