LONDON (Within The Law)- To be accused of torture by one UAE detainee might be considered unfortunate. To be accused of two, might seem like a pattern. That’s what’s happened with the law firm Dechert and one of its most senior partners who, for the second time this year, have been accused of torture.
On Thursday Jihad Quzmar, a Jordanian Palestinian citizen, lodged a claim in the London High Court against Gerrard and the US law firm. In the claim he accused Gerrard of applying pressure and using blackmail to implicate a third party in a fraud.
This is the second time such a claim has been levelled against the firm and Gerrard. In April, Karam Al Sadeq, who is currently in prison for fraud, served a High Court claim and a complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority containing similar allegations.
Sadeq claims a number of wrongdoings, including being held in solitary confinement, subjected to inhuman conditions and deprived contact with his family.
The Quzmar case bears many similarities to Sadeq’s.
He served the government of RAK as a legal advisor between 1989 and 2014. In 2013, Dechert and Gerrard were instructed by RAK as part of an investigation concerning fraud allegations against RAK and the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) by its former chief executive officer Dr Khater Massaad.
According to Quzmar’s evidence Gerrard allegedly orchestrated a number of violations of his rights including:
- Pressure to give evidence: Quzmar says he was pressured to give evidence against Massaad. Gerrard is said to have warned him he would face indefinite imprisonment if his answers didn’t satisfy him.
- Degrading treatment: Quzmar claims he was also cuffed and blindfolded during the interrogation and his feet were shackled in an attempt to ‘belittle’ him.
- Wrongful imprisonment: Gerrard and Dechert allegedly took part in his ‘forcible extra-judicial abduction’ in September 2014 and may have played a role in his “unlawful imprisonment” in RAK ever since. The unlawful interrogation by Gerrard, he claims, amounts to torture and inhuman or degrading treatment intended to blackmail him into providing the intended information.
- Hacking: In an echo of another case, in which Gerrard has been involved, Quzmar also alleges his emails were hacked before his abduction.
- Unlawful search: Gerrard and Dechert are accused of being responsible for the unlawful searching of his home as well as the freezing and/or appropriation of his family’s assets.
After his abduction, he claims he was placed in solitary confinement in a dirty cell measuring only two metres by two metres. This comprised of a squat toilet unseparated from the sleeping area with little or no sunlight. He was then transferred to the Al Barirat camp, where he says he spent over 15 months in similar conditions under a false name.
As part of the case, Quzmar is submitting a translated letter to his wife in which he claims an individual named ‘Neil’ was responsible for his legs being put in chains and banning him from having a bath or shower, as well as handcuffing him.
Quzmar is reported to be claiming £16million in damages with Sadeq demanding a similar amount.
This is just one of a number of cases involving Gerrard this year. As well as the Sadeq claim, he has also been involved in a case against aviation magnate Farhad Azima who alleges Gerrard orchestrated a secret prison where suspects are ‘held without due process to be interrogated.”
Gerrard and Dechert deny the charges against them and say they will defend the claims. A spokesperson said: “The allegations against the firm and its personnel are completely without foundation and we shall be vigorously defending ourselves against them.”
(Written by Tom Cropper, Edited by Klaudia Fior)