Imprisoned for rude sign

2008-12-19 00:00

Forget road rage — Durbanite Mike Parry was jailed for a month for “showing the finger” to a motorist in Dubai, something that probably wouldn’t raise an eyebrow back home.

Parry, who is currently working at an events management company in London, was deported to Britain 10 days ago. His stint behind bars followed a confrontation on October 3 while he was out celebrating a friend’s birthday.

“A car drove towards us, hooting and nearly knocking us over. I jumped out of the way and, without thinking ‘showed the finger’ to the passing car. Immediately, it pulled over and three young local men got out. I apologised. However, an apology obviously wasn’t what they were after.”

The locals asked him to pay more than R20 000 or they would call the police. Parry refused.

“There was conversation between the locals and the police in Arabic, after which the police asked if I had been drinking and if I had ‘shown the finger’. I admitted to both, thinking this wouldn’t be a big deal.”

To his horror, he was arrested and taken for breathalyser and blood tests before arriving at Rashidiya Jail with no idea of the charges or of how long he could be held.

He said the overcrowded jail was only fit for 40 people, with 10 small cells and 40 beds. However, there were over 250 people crammed in. “People were sprawled on mattresses along every corridor and over most of the floor space. I was finally released on bail on Sunday and told to wait for a phone call notifying me about my court date.”

This was November 13, which meant Parry was stuck in Dubai for six weeks and would probably return to London to find he had nowhere to stay and no job.

“I eventually managed to contact the man who laid the charge to see if he would be willing to settle out of court. He agreed to double the sum he’d originally demanded, which I thought was ridiculous. But I didn’t want to have to do time in jail or end up with a record.”

However, the out of court settlement stalled and Parry found himself in court on November 13.

“There was a short exchange with the translator confirming the charges and then I was told to wait, I couldn’t give my side [of the story] and they paid no attention to the fact that I was a tourist who was unfamiliar with the law and culture in Dubai.”

After nearly seven hours in one of the court’s back cells, Parry was handcuffed and transported to jail.

“I was grateful to at least have a bed this time, although I was sharing a cell with 65 other men. I only found out that my sentence was a month in jail, an AED1000 fine and deportation with a one year ban from the United Arab Emirates 48 hours later.”

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