France activists file lawsuits against leading UAE prince

France activists file lawsuits against leading UAE prince
2 min read
21 November, 2018
Activists in France have filed complaints against de-facto UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.
Mohammed bin Zayed has come under fire from human rights activists [Getty]

Human rights activists in France have filed two legal complaints against Abu Dhabi's crown prince over alleged complicity in torture and war crimes in Yemen, agencies reported on Wednesday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who viewed as the the UAE's de-facto ruler, visited Paris on Wednesday to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.

Sheikh Mohammed has come under fire not only for human rights abuses in the UAE and the war in Yemen, but also his close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been linked to the 2 October murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

US President Donald Trump's admission on Tuesday that the Saudi prince may have been behind the brutal murder of Khashoggi overshadowed the meeting between Macron and the bin Zayed.

The two leaders reportedly spoke on Iran, stability in the Middle East, and the war in Yemen, "among other issues".

The meeting also comes as the UAE sentenced a British academic to life in prison for alleged spying offenses.

The UAE plays a lead role in the Saudi-led war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen over the past three years.

Three nationals from the UAE's arch-regional rival Qatar filed some of the complaints aganst the Abu Dhabi prince.

They claimed they were detained and tortured by UAE security officials between February 2013 and May 2015, according to their lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur.

All three were subjected to "physical and psychological torture", including beatings, sleep deprivation and threats of rape, hanging and death, Sur said in a statement.

Six Yemenis and the International Alliance for the Defence of Rights and Freedoms filed charges against the crown prince of “complicity in torture and war crimes" in Yemen.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi-led intervention began in March 2013 according to the World Health Organisation, although the real death toll is believed to be much higher.

Around 14 million people are at risk of starvation with reports on Wednesday that 85,000 Yemenis could have starved to death in the war.

It plaintiffs allege that the Saudi-backed coalition of "mass torture, indiscriminate bombings and a blockade leading to a famine", with Prince Mohammed - as deputy chief of UAE's armed forces - one of the chief architects of the crises. 

Prince Mohammed did not respond to the allegations and is not scheduled to speak to the media during his visit to France.