Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s sixth wife Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 45, fled the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last April having become “terrified” of her husband at the beginning of last year, the court earlier heard. The 70-year-old vice president and prime minister of the UAE soon after applied for the summary return to Dubai of their two children.
But Princess Haya, the half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan, applied for the children to be made wards of court, as well as applying for a forced marriage protection order for one of the children and a non-molestation order for her own protection, it can now be reported.
She asked the High Court to make a series of findings of fact about Sheikh Mohammed, in particular in relation to the kidnap and forcible detention of two of his adult daughters from another marriage almost two decades apart.
Princess Haya alleged there had been a “campaign of fear and intimidation” against her since the start of last year.
In a judgment published on Thursday, Sir Andrew McFarlane, the most senior family judge in England and Wales, found Sheikh Mohammed had “ordered and orchestrated” the abduction and forced return to Dubai of Sheikha Shamsa, then 19, in August 2000 and of her sister Sheikha Latifa twice, in 2002 and again in 2018.
Latifa’s second attempted escape from the UAE made headlines around the world after the publication in March 2018 of a video which she said would only be released if “I’m dead, or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation”.
Sir Andrew found proved claims by Latifa’s friend who tried to help her escape the UAE, that Indian special forces boarded a boat in international waters off the coast of Goa on March 4 2018, before Latifa was taken back to Dubai against her will.
The judge said the account of Latifa’s last words to her “say a great deal”.
He added: “She was pleading for the soldiers to kill her rather than face the prospect of going back to her family in Dubai.
“Drawing these matters together I conclude, on the balance of probability, that Latifa’s account of her motives for wishing to leave Dubai represents the truth.
“She was plainly desperate to extricate herself from her family and prepared to undertake a dangerous mission in order to do so.”
Princess Haya’s barrister, Charles Geekie QC, told the court in November of about a number of “appalling acts” perpetrated against his client, including anonymous notes being left in her bedroom, one of which read: “We will take your son – your daughter is ours – your life is over.”
The court heard that Sheikh Mohammed divorced Princess Haya – without her knowledge – on February 7, 2019, the 20th anniversary of the death of her father, the late King Hussein of Jordan.
Sir Andrew said that Princess Haya was “clear that the date will have been chosen by the father (Sheikh Mohammed) to maximise insult and upset to her”.
In her evidence, Princess Haya described “one of the longest and most frightening days I ever remember living” in March 2019, when a helicopter landed outside her house and a pilot told her that he had come to take one passenger “to Awir”, the site of a prison in the desert.
Sir Andrew said he agreed with Mr Geekie QC’s contention that the events between 2000 and the present day showed “a number of common themes, at the core of which is the use of the state and its apparatus to threaten, intimidate, mistreat and oppress with a total disregard for the rule of law”.
He added: “I also accept Mr Geekie’s submission that these findings, taken together, demonstrate a consistent course of conduct over two decades where, if he deems it necessary to do so, the father will use the very substantial powers at his disposal to achieve his particular aims.”
All the findings of fact, which are vehemently denied by Sheikh Mohammed, have been found to the civil standard of proof on the balance of probabilities.
In a statement issued after the judgments were published, Sheikh Mohammed said: “This case concerns highly personal and private matters relating to our children.
“The appeal was made to protect the best interests and welfare of the children. The outcome does not protect my children from media attention in the way that other children in family proceedings in the UK are protected.
“As a head of government, I was not able to participate in the court’s fact-finding process. This has resulted in the release of a ‘fact-finding’ judgment which inevitably only tells one side of the story.
“I ask that the media respect the privacy of our children and do not intrude into their lives in the UK.”
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