The daughter of the ruler of Dubai was seized by Indian commandos as part of a deal to extradite a British arms dealer, a United Nations panel has ruled.
Princess Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum was captured on a yacht off the coast of Goa as she attempted to escape her father in March 2018, then drugged and returned to Dubai.
Weeks later Christian Michel, 59, was extradited from Dubai to Delhi, where he is accused of paying bribes to help AgustaWestland, the helicopter manufacturer that has a base in Yeovil, Somerset, win a contract worth more than $500 million.
The United Nations working group on arbitrary detention has found that Michel was extradited in a “de facto swap”.
The experts ruled that the deprivation of Michel’s liberty “lacks a legal basis” and that “the violations of the right to a fair trial and due process are of such gravity as to give Mr Michel’s deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character”.
They said that Michel should be released and paid reparations by both India and the United Arab Emirates, according to a report seen by the news agency AFP.
The working group is investigating Latifa’s case and has asked for “proof of life” after the release of videos last week in which she claimed to be held hostage by her father in a “villa jail”.
The princess said that the US-flagged yacht used for her thwarted escape was boarded by the Indian army accompanied by Emirati commandos who used smoke grenades to force her out of hiding.
Latifa, 35, described “kicking and fighting” the soldiers before she was drugged and taken on a private jet back to Dubai.
Her father, Sheikh Mohammed, 71, is prime minister and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates. He has said that he believes that Latifa has been “manipulated” and he described her return to Dubai as a “rescue mission”.
Lawyers for Michel and his family have called on Britain to intervene to secure his release. Toby Cadman, a British barrister, said: “The procedure followed in Christian’s case can only be described as a flagrant denial of justice and a circumvention of the rule of law.”