Dubai probing death of Briton in custody

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Dubai is investigating the death of a 39-year-old British man in custody in the Gulf emirate, the public prosecutor said on Monday.

"The Dubai Public Prosecutor, Essam al-Humaidan has announced that investigations into the death of British citizen Lee Bradley Brown are still underway," an English-language statement reported.

Earlier on Monday, the "Dubai Public Prosecution met with ... (Brown's) parents and allowed them to view and claim the body along with his personal effects," it added.

In a statement on Thursday, Dubai's public prosecutor said the Briton had died in police custody from suffocation, but media reports emerged alleging that he had been tortured.

"The post-mortem report ... had shown the death of the British tourist was caused by suffocation" from vomit in his respiratory tract, Humaidan has said, adding that "blood and urine tests... revealed traces of hashish in the blood of the deceased".

A spokesperson for the British embassy had told AFP that a Briton had died in police custody, and that "the embassy is in close contact with Dubai police and has been assured a full investigation will take place" into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Brown, whom local newspaper 7Days said was a tourist, died in his cell on April 11, nearly a week after being arrested, the English-language daily said.

According to the report, the British embassy "said it had been contacted by the 39-year-old's family, who claimed Brown was beaten by police officers during his detention".

The embassy spokesperson said there was no immediate confirmation of any torture.

Humaidan said in the statement that Brown was jailed for "verbal and physical assault on female staff of the Burj Al-Arab Hotel", the iconic sail-shaped hotel that bills itself as seven-star.

Brown attempted to push a female staff member off one of the sixth-floor internal balconies before being restrained by other hotel staff, Humaidan said.

Dubai, a popular destination for British tourists and expatriate workers, has occasionally come under fire from human rights groups over harsh detention conditions.

© 2011 AFP

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