Ex-corporal Andy Neal has been locked up in a Dubai prison since October after being wrongly being arrested on drugs charges
A British army war hero has been locked up in a Dubai prison for over four months after wrongly being arrested on drugs charges, Mail Online can reveal.
Former corporal Andy Neal has been held after being forced to sign a confession in Arabic admitting that he had sold drugs.
He has repeatedly denied any involvement in drug dealing and despite not a shred of evidence to suggest any illegal activity has languished in jail.
Prosecutors in Dubai admitted the 44-year-old is innocent but are refusing to set him free.
They have even threatened to transfer his case to another court in United Arab Emirates and prolong his prison nightmare.
Members of his family now plan to appeal to Nottingham born Neal’s MP to try and help secure his release.
His case has been taken up by the pressure group Detained in Dubai who have said he has been the victim ‘despicable police practice.’
‘The police not only failed to competently investigate the case, but have locked up an innocent British family man for over four months,’ said Detained in Dubai founder Radha Stirling.
The father-of-two moved to Dubai with his teacher wife (pictured) to run a dog training school after 24 years serving with the British Army. He remains in jail despite prosecutors confirming he is innocent
‘It is shameful what has happened to Andy. His business is going under and he has missed many family events.’
Andy, who served for 24 years in the army with tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, was arrested on October 4.
He had been living in Dubai with his family since 2015 where he runs a successful dog training school.
The 44-year-old has repeatedly denied any involvement in drug dealing and despite not a shred of evidence to suggest any illegal activity has languished in jail
Having been diagnosed with PTSD from his last deployment to Afghanistan he had settled into the Arab kingdom with his teacher wife and children aged six and two.
His nightmare began when he returned from work and was suddenly surrounded by seven plain clothes detectives who searched his car.
The army veteran was frogmarched to his apartment where officers carried out another cursory search, emptying a few draws and looking in cupboards.
His terrified wife was told not to call anyone while Andy was assaulted and told he faced up to 10 years in jail.
The couple were warned if they did not cooperate their children would be taken away.
He told police: ‘I do not have anything to do with drugs’.
Even though he pleaded his innocence he was arrested and handcuffed for 17 hours with no food, water or access to the bathroom.
Both his wife’s and his phone were confiscated and police drew up a statement in Arabic which he was told to sign.
When Andy complained he had no idea what it said he was told curtly by an interrogator ‘It’s exactly what you said.’
Andy, who spent his last years with the army was a member of the Royal Veterinary Corp, later found out he had ‘confessed’ to buying drugs from a Dutch national called Ray and later selling them to someone he had never met called Ahmed.
Police told him Ahmed had admitted Andy sold him drugs – a lie that would later be revealed in court.
Three weeks ago a man Mr Neal, from Nottingham, was accused of selling drugs to admitted he had lied to police and his damming statement was withdrawn. Now he is awaiting to be formally acquitted and freed
During his first court hearing the police mixed up the evidence and Andy learned he was one of 17 people arrested in a ‘drugs sting operation’
When he was asked by a prosecutor about his confession he told them: ‘I have not said any of the things in the statement and had no dealings with any of this at all.’
While being held in Dubai’s central prison his wife was only allowed to see him once a week.
Friends revealed Andy, who served in the Worcesters and Foresters Regiment, broke down in tears as he spoke with his wife.
Mr Neal, 44, was made to sign a confession which he didn’t understand because it was written in Arabic
The British Embassy offered little support to Andy, according to friends, and his parents Maurice and Sue were frantic with worry while he was held.
After being held in police cells he was transferred to Dubai’s central prison where conditions are far below those of a British jail.
Over the Christmas period Andy had several court hearings cancelled when the prosecutor failed to turn up.
Three weeks ago Ahmed admitted to prosecutors that he had never bought any drugs from Andy and his damming statement was withdrawn.
Police had also failed to find any evidence of drug dealing at his home or any telephone calls between him and the other 16 accused.
Despite the case against Andy collapsing the prosecutor said he would make a final decision on his fate by the end of January.
Andy has been told he could be released or the case transferred to Abu Dhabi where it could be another four months before his case is heard.
According to Detained in Dubai if Andy is released immediately the prosecutor will have to admit they have been wrong.
But by transferring the case out of Dubai it would no longer be their responsibility but the investigation would start from the beginning leaving Andy locked up.
Radga Stirling said: ‘Andy should not spend another night in prison, let alone another four months. It is shameful that law enforcement has a rubber stamp to ruin people’s lives, rob children of their parents and jail innocent people with impunity. Why are forced confessions still standard in the UAE.
‘We are calling on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and MP Mark Spencer to stand up for Andy Neal, a man who has dedicated much of his life to supporting British forces abroad and who was recovering from PTSD following service in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.’