Putting a face to cheque cases
A number of commentators are calling for the UAE to re-write its cheque law. Now a new campaign looks set to hammer the point home.
September 1, 2010 1:26 by shafeer
Kipp wrote an opinion piece a week ago about the situation with the cheque law in Dubai. We reported the opening of a new court system for cheque crime, as well as figures showing an increase in the number of cheque defaults and a decrease in the value of the defaults, showing that more people are becoming criminals for less amounts. We concluded the piece by saying, “those campaigning for a change to the law have a strong argument; a poor system compounded by mistakes is bad for everyone, including courts, lenders, and the accused.”
Now the flaws in the law and system seem to have been graphically and emotionally revealed thanks to a new campaign that has just reached Kipp’s attention. “Justiceformydad” is a website, Facebook page, petition, Youtube video, and campaign aiming to secure freedom for Safi Qurashi, a Dubai businessman, and his two colleagues, currently imprisoned for bouncing three major cheques. The figurehead of the campaign is Qurashi’s 11-year-old daughter Sara, who (with help, presumably) has set up the website, set out the details of the case, and started the petition. She has penned a letter to the ruler of Dubai asking for his attention, appeared in a Youtube video appealing for help, and started the Facebook group.
According to the site, Qurashi and his colleagues are in prison for three counts of bouncing a cheque. The amounts are significant (Qurashi’s company, Premier Real Estate, were involved in some large scale deals) but each offence hinges on deals done with investors from outside the UAE. The campaign alleges that one investor banked more than one security cheque in violation of contract after a dispute, and another managed to file for a bounced-cheque case off the back of a cheque that should have been stopped by the bank but was instead incorrectly administered.
The total jail time awarded is seven years, and appeal courts have upheld all verdicts. But the campaign is adamant it has all the evidence required to prove the men’s innocence, including bank statements and contracts, and that the prosecution case is riddled with errors, including a complete failure to interview the men who paid-in the cheques. Among the litany of complaints over the cases is the statement that “A letter before Safi Qurashi’s arrest was issued by the Real Estate Court requesting the case to be transferered to them as they had the expertise to analyse it better than the Dubai Criminal Courts. This request was refused by the Courts with no explanation given.” The campaign says there is no evidence the case was ever referred to the committee or the committee has reviewed the case.
We could go on, but we suggest you read for yourselves at Justiceformydad.com. Kipp would like to have faith in the Dubai justice system that these cases were thoroughly tried and that the appeals process was also rigorous. And, as always, we try to approach every hard luck story with a degree of practical scepticism. But, being aware of the shortfalls of the system as it stands, and reading through the campaign details, it’s difficult not to acknowledge that the system may well be wide open to injustices of this type.
And if we can’t have full confidence in our courts at all times, changes are necessary. Reading the letter from Qurashi to his children is a reminder that for some people those changes may be more urgent than for others.