May 02, 2009
Emirates Torture, goes "global"
Well, it appears that the Abu Dhabi ruling family has gotten itself into a pickle with one of its more "tradition" minded royals. That is the torture video of Sheik Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan. The age of youtube and fast diffusion of such media wrongfooting their Emirates image-branding. I confess when I saw this on FT etc I rather shrugged, thinking that the Emiratis would PR their way forward as usual. Certainly the medieval behaviour wasn't very surprising: Videotape Complicates U.S. Deal With Emirates - NYTimes.com
The videotape — first shown last week by ABC News — has provoked outrage from members of Congress, who said it could add fuel to lawmakers’ reservations about a pending civilian nuclear agreement between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, the seven-member federation on the Persian Gulf to which Abu Dhabi belongs.
Now, while it is probably true the source - who by name is almost certainly a Levantine, I'd guess either Palestinian and/or Lebanese [not being a binary choice per se] is without doubt somewhat slimey,
The videotape, made in 2004, emerged in a separate lawsuit filed by Bassam Nabulsi, a former business partner of Sheik Issa. Mr. Nabulsi, an American citizen from Houston, claims he was later tortured by Emirates police officers after he refused to hand over the videotape.
The tape was made by Mr. Nabulsi’s brother on orders from Sheik Issa, who liked to film torture sessions and watch them later in his palace, said Anthony G. Buzbee, Mr. Nabulsi’s lawyer.
In its statement, the government of Abu Dhabi — the emirate to whose ruling family Sheik Issa belongs — promised a “comprehensive review” of the matter. It also said the government “understands that the matter depicted on the video was resolved between the two parties and that no criminal charges were brought by either party.”
The man being tortured in the video is Mohammed Shah Poor, an Afghan grain merchant who Sheik Issa believed had cheated him, Mr. Buzbee said. Mr. Poor was gravely injured but survived, Mr. Buzbee said.
Daryl Bristow, Sheik Issa’s lawyer, said in a statement that “Bassam Nabulsi and his lawyer are attempting to use a videotape of a third party to influence the court and public opinion” about the lawsuit. He added that he could not comment on details because of the suit, but that “when all the facts are known, the one-sided ‘story’ being told by Nabulsi and his lawyer will be completely addressed and Nabulsi will be discredited.”
However, the fine British lawyer really should have come up with something better than Nabulsi being "discredited" - here's a hint mate, your client is on video torturing someone over a commercial transaction, and it seems highly likely that there is more video (that is they are not bluffing); one rather has to credit the probability that the client did like getting videotaped engaging in his medieval commercial dispute resolution. As such, even if Nabulsi is a total scumbag - and the fact he (or his bro) filmed torture sessions makes that near certainty - no 'discrediting' is terribly helpful to your client (well in court maybe, but one rather suspects the least of his problems is the actual court case).
This is one of those moments where lawyers should know to keep their fucking mouths shut. Second observation, do not let a lawyer be your PR person.
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This is terrible. It always makes me think of what could be happening at this very moment and it is scary.
Posted by: DWI Lawyer at May 3, 2009 01:19 AM
Posted by: The Lounsbury at May 3, 2009 04:18 AM
"This is one of those moments where lawyers should know to keep their fucking mouths shut. Second observation, do not let a lawyer be your PR person."
First of all, suppose psycho-sheikh had decided to hire the best lobbyist and best PR firm in the U.S. What happy spin do you think they would be able to put on this? As you point out, the evidence is indisputable and the crime indefensible.
Second, pretend for a moment that you are this guy's lawyer. The client is screaming at you to defend him and rebut these "outrageous allegations." Are you going to tell this guy to suck it up?
I probably wouldn't take this guy as a client. But I can tell you that fair less obnoxious clients than this can be very difficult to manage sometimes. Sometimes you go along with a client's pointless request/demand just to propitiate them. If you think your client is likely to drive an SUV over you, you're more inclined to give way gracefully when the client asks you to do something that is, strictly speaking, outside the scope of your remit.
Posted by: Anonymous at May 4, 2009 03:16 PM
That is so SCARY! My GOD, someone needs to talk some sense into him! The thing is, who will? I imagine the police officer was probably afraid to speak out.
Posted by: mimi 5ayfah at May 4, 2009 10:29 PM