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UK police review probe into abduction of Dubai ruler's daughter

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London (AFP)

British police said on Saturday they were reviewing an investigation into the disappearance of the ruler of Dubai's daughter after a court found that she had been abducted by her father.

In a judgement released this week, a British family court judge said that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who is vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, had ordered the abduction of two of his adult daughters and their forcible return home.

One of the women, Sheikha Shamsa, was taken from the English city of Cambridge when she was 19 in August 2000, the court found.

In light of the ruling, Cambridgeshire police said it was reviewing aspects of an investigation it carried out at the time.

"An investigation into the alleged abduction of Shamsa Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum in 2000 was carried out by Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 2001," a spokeswoman said.

She said there was "insufficient" evidence to take any further action back then. A review in 2017 also found insufficient evidence, and the case is no longer active.

She noted that the standard of proof in criminal cases is significantly different to in family court hearings.

"However, in light of the recent release of the judgement, aspects of the case will now be subject to review," she said.

The judgement was issued in a dispute between the sheikh and his most recent ex-wife, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, who applied for protection for their two school age children.

Human rights groups have now called for the release of Shamsa and her sister Latifa, who was twice stopped from running away in 2002 and 2018, after the court said they had both since been "deprived of their liberty".

"Abducting family members abroad and continuing to confine them shows the extent to which UAE rulers behave as if they are unaccountable for their actions and above the law," said Rothna Begum, senior women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"The UAE authorities should immediately free Sheikha Shamsa and Sheikha Latifa, allow them to leave the UAE if they wish, investigate their abduction and allegations of torture, and bring those responsible to account."

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Middle East research director, added: "Throughout the hearing, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has insisted these are 'private family matters'.

"But state-sanctioned abduction and inhuman treatment is not a family affair. It is a serious human rights violation, and a matter of international concern.

"Federal law in the UAE leaves women unprotected and undermined, which too often leaves them vulnerable to abuse by male family members."

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