Dubai mum: My hell

I can’t be­lieve that woman was will­ing to put me in jail when my girl had just lost her dad ..I wanted to die

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Front Page - BY PA­TRICK HILL pa­[email protected]­

THE mother held in Dubai af­ter call­ing her ex’s new wife a “horse” on Face­book was pushed to the brink of sui­cide, fear­ing she would never see her daugh­ter again.

Laleh Shahravesh was sep­a­rated from 14-year-old Paris as she was de­tained for 33 days when they flew out to see the grave of the girl’s dad, who had died a week ear­lier.

Laleh, 55, was con­victed un­der the United Arab Emi­rates’ strict cy­ber crime laws af­ter her ex-hus­band’s new wife, Samah al Ham­madi, com­plained to po­lice about two abu­sive Face­book mes­sages she posted three years ago.

Laleh to­day re­veals her agony in her first in­ter­view since be­ing re­united with her daugh­ter on Fri­day.

It fol­lowed an in­ter­na­tional out­cry over her treat­ment.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to the Sun­day Mir­ror, Laleh ad­mit­ted: “The day be­fore I was told I was free to go I’d given up hope and was sui­ci­dal.

“I felt like I was never go­ing to see my daugh­ter again and sent a mes­sage to my sis­ter say­ing ‘I can’t do this any more’. I told her, ‘It’s killing me, ev­ery day is killing me’. I could see my whole life flash­ing be­fore my eyes and I just wanted to die. It was tor­ture to me.”


Bro­ken by her or­deal, Laleh told how Samah per­sisted with her com­plaint de­spite po­lice plead­ing with her five times to drop it.

But she in­sists she will re­turn to Dubai so her be­reaved daugh­ter can fi­nally visit her fa­ther’s grave.

Sit­ting next to her mother af­ter their emo­tional re­union at Heathrow Air­port, Paris said: “I’m so happy to have Mum back. My heart skipped a beat when I saw her at the air­port. It was an in­cred­i­bly happy mo­ment.

“It was aw­ful be­ing with­out her. It was as if a part of me was miss­ing.

“I want to do ev­ery­thing with Mum now. I re­ally missed her. We re­ally like watch­ing movies and go­ing to mu­se­ums to­gether.”

Laleh was ar­rested at Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port on March 10 af­ter she and Paris had trav­elled to the emi­rate to grieve at the grave­side of Laleh’s ex-hus­band Pe­dro Correia Dos San­tos.

He had un­ex­pect­edly died of a heart at­tack aged 51, just seven days ear­lier.

Laleh was stopped at pass­port con­trol and taken for ques­tion­ing by po­lice, who said Samah had made a le­gal com­plaint about two Face­book posts in 2016 de­scrib­ing her as a horse. Laleh says she and Paris were left cry­ing in fear af­ter be­ing re­peat­edly shouted at and in­tim­i­dated by po­lice, who held her in an im­mi­gra­tion room at the air­port for four hours.

She said: “Ini­tially I thought it could be a visa prob­lem. I had no idea what was hap­pen­ing and kept ask­ing ‘What’s go­ing on?’ but they wouldn’t tell me. The of­fi­cers were very hos­tile, I felt scared and in­tim­i­dated.

“Then an of­fi­cer came in and said, ‘There’s a com­plaint against you – do you know Samah al Ham­madi?’

“I burst into tears. I couldn’t be­lieve I’d been ar­rested for two Face­book posts made in the UK three years ago.”

Laleh and Paris spent 12 hours at Jebel Ali Po­lice Sta­tion out­side the city, where Laleh was or­dered to sign a state­ment in Ara­bic, with­out un­der­stand­ing what it said. She later found the trans­la­tion of her post sub­sti­tuted “b **** ” for “horse”.

Laleh wrote the posts af­ter seeing a photo of Pe­dro mar­ry­ing

Samah, five months af­ter their 18-year mar­riage ended in di­vorce. Laleh had lived in Dubai for eight months with Pe­dro and Paris af­ter he got a job as a risk man­ager with HSBC. She re­turned home to the UK with their daugh­ter in 2014, with Pe­dro due to fol­low af­ter com­plet­ing his work com­mit­ments. But he had a re­la­tion­ship with Tu­nisian Samah, and later filed for di­vorce.

The posts said: “I hope you go un­der the ground you id­iot. Damn you. You left me for this horse”, and: “You mar­ried a horse you id­iot.”

Laleh said: “I know I shouldn’t have, but I was dis­traught. It hap­pened so long ago and me and Pe­dro had since made our peace. I had no idea about the law in Dubai, or that you could be pros­e­cuted for such a thing.”

Samah told po­lice that Laleh had been de­fam­ing her on­line in a barrage of “vi­cious abuse”, which she dis­putes.

Laleh said: “Po­lice called her five times in one day to ask her to drop the com­plaint, but she in­stead sub­mit­ted more ev­i­dence to en­sure charges were filed. I phoned a mu­tual friend in Dubai to ask her to drop the com­plaint for Paris’s sake.

“He said she told him she’d al­ready told the po­lice no five times and that she’d told him, ‘Let it go to court’.

“I felt ev­ery­thing crumbling around

Be­ing apart from my daugh­ter was bru­tal. It’s com­pletely bro­ken me LALEH SHAHRAVESH ON BE­ING DE­TAINED 33 DAYS

me. I couldn’t un­der­stand how a woman could do such a thing know­ing the ef­fect on her hus­band’s daugh­ter. Pe­dro would never have wanted any of this to hap­pen. It was so spite­ful and vin­dic­tive. She was will­ing to put me in jail and didn’t think twice.”

Laleh, who was pri­vately ed­u­cated at Tormead School in Guild­ford, Sur­rey, and used to work for Lon­don auc­tion­eers Bon­hams, was told she was be­ing held in Dubai to await a court hear­ing. It was then she made the heart­break­ing de­ci­sion to send Paris home on her own.

She said: “Paris was ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fied. I thought, ‘I can’t sub­ject her to one more minute of this’. It was the sin­gle hard­est thing I’ve ever had to do. I said sorry to her so many times.”

Paris wrote to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mo­hammed last week in a bid for her mum’s re­lease. On Thurs­day Laleh ap­peared at the Dubai Court of Mis­de­meanours, where her case was ad­journed for a week.

Laleh col­lapsed out­side and wailed: “I’m dy­ing.” She was taken away in a wheel­chair and came close to sui­cide.

Judge Mo­hamed Mustafa Ibrahim Khalil then or­dered she could be re­leased if she paid a £624 fine. Laleh said: “I burst into tears of hap­pi­ness.” Telling of her emo­tional re­turn, she said: “The mo­ment I saw Paris was so over­whelm­ing. My heart was aching for her and be­ing able to hold my girl again was so emo­tional.

“Be­ing apart from her had been bru­tal. I feel like a frac­tion of the per­son I was be­fore. This last month has com­pletely bro­ken me phys­i­cally and men­tally.

“I didn’t de­serve what hap­pened. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst en­emy. I just want to en­joy life with Paris now and cher­ish ev­ery mo­ment.”

She has lost her job at a home­less shel­ter due to her ab­sence, and could even face los­ing her home.

But she is plan­ning to re­turn to Dubai, say­ing: “Paris wanted to go out there and see his grave so it could feel real and she could get some clo­sure. It’s where Pe­dro is buried. I haven’t been banned from the coun­try, there’s noth­ing stop­ping me.”

Of Samah, she said: “I feel sorry for her be­cause she can’t be a very happy per­son. But I have to try and move for­ward.”

OR­DEAL Laleh Shahravesh faced jail af­ter her horse in­sult to ex’s new wife

RE­UNITED Laleh and Paris on Fri­day at Heathrow

SHE’S BACK Paris is de­lighted to have her mum home at last FAM­ILY Laleh with Pe­dro and their daugh­ter Paris DADDY’S GIRL Pe­dro and Paris in 2010

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