Kiwis in UAE drugs probe to appear in court

Last updated 09:38 24/02/2014

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Three New Zealand citizens arrested in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of an investigation into drugs-related offences are due to appear in court today.

The three, who live in the UAE, were arrested on December 19. They had been held in detention, but no formal charges had been laid, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) spokesperson said.

A fourth New Zealander arrested had since been released.

Representatives from the New Zealand Consulate-General in Dubai had visited the detained Kiwis three times, to check on their health and wellbeing and to provide consular support.

Consular staff in Dubai continued to provide updates and advice to the detainees' families, MFAT said.

MFAT could not comment on the legal process or interfere in the judicial proceedings of another country.

The British government warns its citizens the UAE has a zero tolerance for drugs-related offences. It said penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession of even residual amounts of drugs were severe.

Sentences for drug trafficking could include the death penalty, while possession of even the smallest amount of illegal drugs could lead to a minimum four-year jail sentence. The presence of drugs in the bloodstream counted as possession.

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