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Brit held in notorious prison called 'Dante's inferno' won't be freed until he pays 'blood money'

Brit held in notorious prison called 'Dante's inferno' won't be freed until he pays 'blood money'

James Hutchinson was found partly responsible for the car accident that killed a cyclist in 2013, and the family want financial compensation

A Brit being held in a prison so notorious it’s known as ‘Dante’s Inferno’ won’t be freed until he pays ‘blood money’.

Army veteran James Hutchinson is now an inmate in Al-Wathba jail in the United Arab Emirates state after being arrested in July 2023.

Previous inmates at Al-Wathba jail have talked of sharing cells with up to 40 others, temperatures rising to a whopping 50C and having to eat ‘rotten garbage’ food.

According to non-profit Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center, the jail suffers severely from overcrowding. The men's section is meant to have a capacity for 2,400, but the actual number of prisoners is 4,000. For the women's section, there should be 200 inmates, but there's actual 400.

In 2019, special rapporteurs for the United Nations raised allegations of torture, ill-treatment and lack of appropriate medical treatment in relation to three Emirati prisoners serving time at Al-Wathba. The UAE government denied the claims.

With all this in mind, it's easy to see how the jail earned its nickname, and the conditions are reportedly taking their toll on Hutchinson.

James Hutchinson is now an inmate in Aal Wathba jail in the United Arab Emirates state after being arrested in July 2023.

His father Malcolm flew to the UAE recently and told The Mirror: “James looked dishevelled and was in low spirits when I saw him in jail.”

Hutchinson's incarceration relates to a car accident in 2013, in which a Sudanese cyclist was killed while he was driving.

Judges had ruled Hutchinson was partly responsible for the crash, which happened when he was living in the country.

He later left Abu Dhabi thinking everything was fine after insurers paid out around £15,000.

The racing driving instructor returned in 2020, looking for work and successfully found a job in 2021.

But when he went to the local police station to apply for a work permit, he discovered the family of the man killed in the crash had applied for more compensation in a civil case.

And Hutchinson apparently had no knowledge of this, according to a GoFundMe set up by his mother, Heather Feakins.

He was told he cannot leave the country without paying £170,000 in 'blood money' to the family.

He managed to repay £52,000 of the 'blood money' from work and after ending up jobless, the court took the remaining £15,000 from his bank account.

A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was thrown in the notorious Al Wathba jail, even though no criminal charges had been filed against him.

The GoFundMe to help Hutchinson and his family has so far raised just over £2,700.

Hutchinson must pay the family of the man who was killed in the car crash in order to be released from prison.
Marcia Straub/Getty Images

The man, who has a wife and seven-year-old daughter living in Russia, was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and Feakins worries the stress ‘imposed on him will be extremely detrimental to his health’ adding that in prison ‘every day for James is hell’.

She wrote: “To date, we have been in contact with the British Embassy in the UAE, Military Veteran Associations, and local MPs in the UK as well as trying further ways in the UAE system to get justice.

“We have yet to find anyone that will help him.”

Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai told The Mirror: “Without urgent diplomatic intervention, James could spend years in prison. We’re reaching out to his MP and the Foreign Office.

"It’s disturbing the UK does not take care of its servicemen when they face wrongful detention in an allied nation.”

In a comment to LADbible, a spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office said: “We are providing consular assistance to a British man detained in the UAE and are supporting his family.”

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/James Hutchinson / Giles Clarke/Getty Images

Topics: Prison, News, UK News