A Finnish woman, who says she helped the daughter of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates escape her father, has come forward as to the events that happened after the two fled the UAE. Her story was published on the internet outlet MyNewsDesk.com.
Tina Jauhianinen, who describes herself as the princess’ closest friend, claims that even though she was threatened by UAE officials to keep quiet about the events, she chose to speak out for the sake of her friend.
The story began in late February when Jauhianinen and Princess Sheikha Latifa Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, daughter of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, boarded a an American yacht captained by Hervé Jaubert, a French-American former naval intelligence officer. Al Maktoum is the prime minister of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai.
After that, all communications from the two went silent until late March, when a video made by the princess surfaced. In the video, Sheikha Latifa claims she fled Dubai via a boat to escape years of torture and imprisonment by her father. She poignantly described her desire to escape the UAE and her previous escape attempt with her older sister Shamsa in 2002.
After that unsuccessful attempt, she says she was tortured and imprisoned for more than three years. She also stated that her father and his men were responsible for the murders of family members and as well as countless others.
Sheikha Latifa is one of Al Maktoum’s 30 children.
She said she instructed her attorney to upload the video in the case of her death or disappearance.
Jauhianinen describes what happened once they boarded the yacht. While in international waters off the coast of Goa, India on the night of March 4, Jauhianinen says the boat was attacked by Indian secret service and military personnel, including the Indian coast guard.
“Around 15 men came onboard fully masked, in armored black clothing, with machine guns and laser sights. They used what was some kind of gas that filled the boat was smoke. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. The Indian men had their laser sights on me and Latifa and they were telling me they would shoot me and kill me.
“I was thrown against the floor, stood on and found myself next to a pool of blood. At this point I thought they had killed Hervé and I thought I was next. They told me again and again that they would kill me and held me on the edge of the boat, threatening to shoot me. We were cuffed and forced to lie down.”
Jaubert independently said there were at least five warships (equipped with cannons and missiles), two military planes and a helicopter involved in the raid of the American-flagged boat. He was told his vessel had been taken over and that all those on board were being detained – not because they had broken any maritime law, but rather because helping the princess escape was “a violation of Islamic law.”
Jauhianinen continued: “Latifa was screaming at the Indian men that she was claiming political asylum. They dragged her away as I heard her say, ‘I won’t go back to the UAE, just kill me now’; I haven’t seen my friend Latifa since.”
She says everyone was blindfolded and handcuffed and taken back to the UAE, where they were interrogated for two weeks. “I was regularly told that I was facing the death penalty; that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum had make it clear to ‘get Tina.’ I was frightened then and am now. The whole time, I thought that we would be killed.”
Eventually she and Jaubert were forced to sign “confessions.”
“We were told that if we did not do so we would never leave and faced the death penalty,” she said. “We were instructed what to say and I was instructed to shower, change clothes and brush my hair. Then they made us sign a document in Arabic, I do not know what it said.”
Before she was released, Jauhianinen was told not to speak of the events. “They said, ‘Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum is one of the most powerful people in the world and he can kidnap you from anywhere, as you have seen. He can get you anywhere he wants’. Since I got home, UAE secret service has phoned me to remind me of the document I signed and to check on me, they have tried to get me to go back to Dubai.”
“I am fearful for my life,” continued the traumatized Jauhianinen. “I believe Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum would think nothing of killing all of us. I am fearful for the life of Latifa, Hervé [Jaubert] and the crew of Nostromo [the yacht]. However, what happened to us has to be spoken about. Dubai is not safe for anyone.”
While still onboard the yacht, Sheikha Latifa and Jaubert made contact with an organization called Detained in Dubai. The organization is staffed by experts on the UAE’s civil and criminal justice system and offers legal help to those needing assistance.
“The magnitude of what Dubai, the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and India appear to have done is unprecedented,” said Daiv Haigh, a partner in the organization. “The level of flagrant disregard for international law and human rights on such a mammoth scale is a world first. The illegal hijacking of a U.S. vessel and the torture and kidnap of its passengers breaches all of the international human rights instruments that the UAE signed up to at the United Nations.”
Radha Stirling, CEO of the organization, has submitted a formal complaint with the United Nations and has called for an independent investigation of the incident. In addition, she called for the immediate release of Sheikha Latifa from UAE custody, saying:
“The actions of the UAE and India against Nostromo, its crew and passengers was a belligerent and hostile act well beyond the pale of the law,” said Stirling. “[The boat] is a U.S.- registered vessel that falls under American jurisdiction; it is, in short, legally considered United States territory. No one aboard the ship had committed a crime, as was subsequently conceded by UAE authorities themselves, and they were sailing legally with all documentation in order.
“Clearly the justification Emirati officials offered Herve about their actions is deeply troubling. The UAE acted as if their own cultural norms and religious beliefs supersede their international legal obligations and the rule of law; and that they have the right to impose their interpretation of Islamic law against free citizens of foreign countries in international waters. Latifa has the right to live wherever she chooses, and any restrictions on her freedom of movement violates international law; particularly when she claims to have suffered severe abuse in the UAE.”