Dubai: A European who briefly shared a prison cell with Lee Bradley Brown told XPRESS how the visiting Briton begged him for help just days before he died in police custody.
The man described Brown's condition as "terrible" but clarified he did not see him being beaten, contradicting British media reports that Brown was tortured by the police.
"I saw him bleeding. He had bruises on his face, shoulder and arms when he asked me for help," said the man who was released from Bur Dubai police station lock-up shortly after Brown's death. "He kept saying: ‘Please help me, please help me'."
"I did not see him being beaten … he did not die in front of me."
XPRESS confirmed the man was in Bur Dubai police station lock-up at the same time as Brown but, honouring his request, will not disclose his name, nationality or the reason for his detention.
"Brown was half naked with both his hands and legs in cuffs. He wore nothing on top … and no shoes… his pants were hanging well below the waist."
"I saw him being served a meal of rice with a piece of chicken and laban (a yoghurt drink). But the food was untouched for two days. I don't know why he didn't eat it... I asked the police to check on him."
The man said the next time he saw Brown was when his body was being taken out in a bag.
"I don't know what happened. [Brown] did not say anything to me in this regard," he said, adding that he had no clue why the Briton came to Dubai or what had transpired at Burj Al Arab.
The European, however, claimed Brown told another inmate that he came to Dubai on someone's invitation. "I believe he never told anyone who that ‘someone' was, he said."
On Monday, the European met Brown's brother and sister-in-law who flew to Dubai to take possession of his body.
"From the very outset, we have been pressing the Dubai authorities for a full investigation into the death of Lee Brown. We are in regular contact with his family and have conveyed their wishes on next steps to the Dubai authorities, and will continue to do so. His family have asked for their privacy to be respected at this very difficult time," said a spokesperson of the British Embassy in an e-mail statement to XPRESS.
A self-employed maintenance worker from Ilford, Essex in East England, Brown, 39, was arrested from the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel after being accused of physically and verbally abusing a female staff member on April 6.
He was taken to Bur Dubai police station where he died on April 12, sparking allegations that he was beaten to death.
Public prosecutors who heard the testimonies of the police said Brown was injured when he banged his head against a wall and tried to throw himself from the hotel's balcony while resisting arrest. Police officers also testified that Brown continued to beat on the metal mesh barrier in the patrol car while he was being driven to the police station.
Essam Al Humaidan, Dubai Attorney-General, said the forensic report showed bruises on Brown's forehead, nose and inner right arm. There were minor injuries below his chin, his sole and his right eyebrow. More abrasions were found on the back of his hands and fingers.
Al Humaidan said the abrasions, four to five days old, were consistent with the witnesses' testimonies and that they were sustained during the "violent resistance" or due to friction from the handcuffs. These injuries were minor and had nothing to do with Brown's cause of death.
He said the report showed that Brown did not suffer from any illness either and that he choked to death on his own vomit.
Earlier, Dubai Police Chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim refuted reports saying Brown was tortured. "I am sure that no one used force against the tourist who was in police custody," he told Gulf News.
Public prosecutors also heard the testimony of the Nepalese hotel chambermaid in which she claimed she went to a room for housekeeping on April 6 when Brown abused her and tried to throw her off the balcony.