British mother appears in Dubai court over ‘horse’ Facebook post

A British woman held in Dubai over Facebook posts calling her ex-husband’s wife a “horse” has appeared in court, the campaign group which represents her has said.

Laleh Shahravesh, 55, was detained under strict cybercrime laws when she visited the country with her daughter Paris, 14, three years after writing the posts.

There was “no result” when she faced a judge in Dubai on Thursday, the Detained In Dubai group said.

Chief executive Radha Stirling said the complainant, Samah Al Hammadi, did not attend the hearing and has appointed a new lawyer who asked for more time to review the case.

British woman faces jail in Dubai over Facebook post
British woman faces jail in Dubai over Facebook post

Ms Shahravesh, from Richmond, south-west London, called Ms Hammadi, from Tunisia, a horse in a post after she discovered her ex-husband Pedro Correia Dos Santos had remarried in 2016.

She was arrested when she travelled to the United Arab Emirates on March 10 for Pedro’s funeral after his death from a heart attack one week earlier.

Paris was allowed to return to Britain after the pair were held by police for 12 hours, but Ms Shahravesh’s passport was seized, Detained In Dubai said.

She faces two years in prison and a £50,000 fine.

Ms Stirling, who represents Ms Shahravesh, said: “It appears that the complainant may be prolonging the process, making it all the more torturous for Laleh and her daughter.

“There have been ever-changing signals by Ms Hammadi since this debacle began, once saying she would withdraw the complaint out of respect for her late husband’s love for his daughter, then saying she would drop the charges if Laleh apologised, and the latest reports are that she is seeking monetary compensation.

“Now, she has brought in a new lawyer and caused a further delay.”

She said a judgment on the case had been expected during the hearing, adding: “It is frankly shocking that the court is allowing this frivolous use of the cybercrime laws instead of dismissing the case outright.”

Following up with @Jeremy_Hunt on behalf of Paris, daughter of #FreeLaleh on what intervention the FCO is making to try to free British citizen arrested over 'horse’ insult. Paris has said the British government “could do a little more".

— Radha Stirling – CEO @detainedindubai 🇺🇸🇦🇺🇬🇧 (@RadhaStirling) April 11, 2019

The judge is expected to fix a new court date, which could be next week, at another brief hearing later on Thursday.

Ms Stirling said: “Rather than leaving Laleh’s fate in the hands of Ms Hammadi, the court should dismiss the case on its merits, and let her go home to her daughter.”