Mohammad Riyaz Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A case of mistaken identity that started at Abu Dhabi airport has led a communications engineer to be questioned and jailed in Al Wathba jail for more than a week, turning his life upside down.

Abu Dhabi police had inadvertently linked his identification records to a man, with a completely different name, who was deported from the country for crimes committed 11 years ago, Gulf News Learnt.

Indian national Mohammad Riyaz, 27, was arrested on October 20 at Abu Dhabi Airport on his way back from a vacation. Police took him into custody where they shaved his head and treated him like criminal.

According to the Abu Dhabi General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Riyaz’s passport was mistakenly linked by Abu Dhabi police to the name of a man who was deported in 2002.

Riyaz said he was released from jail on bail and was asked by Abu Dhabi court to obtain proof of his identity from the Dubai residency department that issued his visa and from Dubai police.

A Dubai police official said that Mohammad Ali Mohammad is the name of the deported man whose records are linked with Riyaz’s.

Police said that Mohammad committed several crimes in the country, including rape and robbery, served a jail term, was deported 11 years ago and banned from entering the country. Police said the case of the deported man was filed at Bur Dubai Police Station.

According to the Dubai General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Riyaz has no criminal record at all.

“When I was arrested I expected nothing more than being wrongly identified and that police will sort out the case but instead, I was arrested and taken to jail,” he said. “I told police that I was a 16-year-old studying at school in India when the man committed his crimes. The deported man was 42-years-old and I’m only 27.”

Now out on bail, the “case is transferred to public prosecution and I’m released on bail. I never thought I would be sitting in jail, especially for something I knew for sure I didn’t do,” he said. “Police questioned me, they ran [my] fingerprints...I was clueless...I was texting my uncle who lives in Al Ain to help me out while it was going on.”

Riyaz said he came to the UAE for the first time on March 20 and joined work as an information system consultant in Abu Dhabi on the same day.

“I went home on October 8 for Eid vacation and I came back on October 20 to be detained at the airport and sent to prison,” he said.

“Despite clear proof that I’m not the deported person, still the authorities are holding my passport and have restricted me from leaving the country.”

The ordeal, he said, has placed him under a great deal of pressure.

“I asked police repeatedly about the reason for detaining me, but none gave me a reply, I have my hands handcuffed and legs chained. I was very disappointed the way I was treated as if I’m a criminal,” he said.

Riyaz holds a Bachelor of Technology in Engineering Electronics and Communication.

“When I have all the proof about me and my life, why I’m treated like a criminal and put in jail for no mistake?”

Abu Dhabi Residency department said that the General Department of Electronic and Communication Services at the Ministry of Interior has to remove Riyaz’s file that they have wrongly attached to the data of the deported person.