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DUBAI (Reuters) – Two British men on hunger strike in a Dubai jail were moved to a clinic for medical treatment last week as their health deteriorated, friends and family members said on Tuesday.
Peter Margetts and fellow Briton Safi Qurashi said in April they had joined other prisoners in the protest against lengthy sentences imposed on them for writing bad cheques, a criminal offence in the United Arab Emirates.
The prisoners, most of them real estate developers and businessmen working in Dubai during its economic boom years, fell into debt when the emirate’s property bubble burst after the 2008 global credit crisis.
Qurashi was taken to a clinic at the Dubai police headquarters after suffering from severe chest pains and collapsing on Friday, his wife Huma Qurashi told Reuters.
“His kids and I are really worried about him … The authorities are denying there are people on hunger strike. He just wants to be heard,” she said.
The British businessman, 43, was jailed for seven years for writing three cheques that bounced.
Margetts, who is serving a 23 year prison sentence, suffered a stroke last week and was taken to the prison’s clinic for medical treatment before being sent back to jail, a friend of his family said.
Margetts, 48, has been on hunger strike since April 22. He was convicted after cheques securing a 20-million dirham ($5.45 million) loan bounced.
Britain’s embassy said it was monitoring the situation closely and that consular officials visited the prison on Sunday.
Police officials in Dubai were not immediately available for comment.
Lawyers in the UAE have called for the decriminalisation of writing bad cheques. The country has no clear bankruptcy law to protect debtors.