A group of Louisville law students is petitioning the Kentucky Racing Commission to ban Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum from the Kentucky Derby.
The Sheikh of Dubai is a controversial figure and stands accused of holding an adult daughter, Princess Latifa, hostage after an escape attempt.
The 33-year-old Princess recorded a video prior to her escape attempt, describing the “gilded cage” in which she’d been forced to live all her life, always watched, always followed, denied her dream of studying medicine abroad.
She said that as a woman in Dubai her life was “disposable.” And she warned that if the video was released, it would mean that she was dead or in a “very, very, very bad situation.”
In 2018, she attempted to escape in a dingy to India via a U.S. flagged vessel but subsequently was captured. A friend who attempted to help her get out of the country said Latifia screamed at her captors to shoot her rather than take her back to the palace.
Latifia has not been seen or heard from since.
Sheikh Mohammed operates horse racing farms in Kentucky and may potentially have a horse running in the Derby on May 4. Students at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law have written a complaint to the Kentucky Racing Commission asking them to ban the Shiekh and his horse from the Derby.
Students Victoria Davidson, Alexa Elder, Emily Pinerola and Irina Strelkova, and UofL law professor Sam Marcosson argued that Sheikh Mohammed’s presence was unacceptable in a county that values human rights.
“What is more undesirable and lacking in integrity than a man who willfully violated the sovereignty of a U.S. flagged vessel on the high seas, having its occupants, including the U.S. citizen captain, beaten, dragged off and imprisoned without trial?” reads a news release from the group.