British cancer sufferer held in Dubai over 'too many pills' is freed


A British prostate cancer sufferer who was held in a Dubai prison after customs officers said he had "too many pills" has been freed.

Maritime security officer Perry Coppins, 61, was arrested on November 1 after a customs official thought he had taken illegal amounts of his prescription medication into the country, according to the campaign group Detained in Dubai (DiD).

The father of three from Nottingham was carrying his medicine, which is legal in the United Arab Emirates with a prescription, and his prescription.

Mr Coppins was jailed for five weeks despite his explanation that he needed enough of his medication to last him for a six-month voyage, according to DiD, which led an international press and social media protest on his behalf.

DiD said his passport had now been returned, the charges against him dropped and he was free to return home, but he was cash-strapped after spending his savings on mounting legal and living expenses as he waited to face court.

DiD chief executive Radha Stirling said: "We welcome the decision by Dubai authorities to take the humane and sensible course with Perry.

"This case should never have escalated to the point of criminal charges, but without the scrutiny of the international media, it is unlikely that Perry would be a free man tonight.

"In the absence of such attention, what was essentially a misjudgment by one customs official turned into a literally life-threatening situation for Perry."

DiD claimed Mr Coppins was denied his medication in custody, and his condition deteriorated rapidly as he suffered severe withdrawal, including hallucinations, bouts of blindness and weight loss.

His family and friends were hoping that Mr Coppins would be able to get the treatment he needed.