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Extradition to Australia condition of deal between AFP and Dubai, where drug traffickers can face death penalty

AFP Australia
Dubai: Police in Dubai agreed they would extradite the five Australians accused of drug trafficking offences from the outset, as part of their cross-continent collaboration to help bring down alleged organised criminal networks including members of the notorious Ibrahim family.

The Commander in Chief of Dubai's policing praised the joint Australian-UAE-Dutch investigation, which culminated in dramatic "zero hour" raids in the three countries on Monday that smashed two syndicates and led to the arrest of seven people, and said they showed the UAE stood ready to bring down criminals.

In his only interview with Australian media, Major General Abdulla Khalifa Al Marri said the "tremendous cooperation" between the AFP and Dubai police was at the "highest levels" and said it sent a clear message of Dubai's "great intolerance" towards drug dealers and smugglers.

"The UAE has great intolerance towards drug dealers and smugglers who aim to make money in the most illegal ways and we vow to exert all possible efforts and work with our partners to fight and prevent drugs across the world," he said.

He said the men did not try to resist their capture when they were arrested in separate raids at 10pm and 1am at the plush JLT complex and at the tourist hot-spot the Marina in Dubai. The five arrested include brothers Fadi and Michael Ibrahim, Mustapha Dib, Stephen Elmir and Koder Jomaa.

"A 'zero hour,' was set by the three countries at a meeting in Dubai in the weeks prior. Dubai police raided the JLT area in Dubai on Monday evening in a simultaneous operation with our Australian and Dutch counterparts," Major General Al Marri told Fairfax Media.

JLT is one of Dubai's most exclusive, expensive and affluent areas and sits opposite the marina and is where one of the arrested, Koder Jooma, runs a clean-eating cafe called Fit Food Kitchen.

The men have been in custody in sweltering 43-degree temperatures since their alleged plot to ship $810 million worth of cocaine and ice to Australia via The Netherlands was foiled.

Major General Al Marri said: "All suspects will be handed over to the AFP so to face judicial processes in Australia, as per the UN convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics."

When asked if extradition to Australia was a condition of the deal struck between the AFP and Dubai police he said "yes." "This is an Australian case," he added when asked if the UAE wanted to prosecute the men themselves, noting that the nearly $1 billion dollars worth of narcotics were destined for Sydney.

Serious drug offences can carry the death penalty in the UAE although justice via the firing squad is rare.

The revelation suggests the AFP were conscious of the need to avoid a repeat of the Bali Nine case, where AFP tipped off their Indonesian counterparts about a drug mule ring, only for the Australians to be caught in Indonesia and tried under local law.

Ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in April 2015, ten years after their arrest in Bali.

The Dubai Five will certainly face Australian law and not UAE law, meaning they will escape the threat of the death penalty.

It is not known how soon the men will be extradited to Australia to face a string of criminal charges but under Australia and the UAE's extradition treaty it can be no more than 60 days.

"Our responsibility was just to get them to the court here and then handed to the Australian authorities," Major General Al Marri said.

It is not clear if they will face courts in Dubai before being extradited.


Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Latika Bourke, August 11, 2017

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