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
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