Bookmark and Share

UN Drug Man Pardoned in Dubai ::

Reported by Tristan Ingram on December 21, 2007

Canadian United Nations anti-drug official Bert Tatham, 35, was freed from a Dubai prison this week, after serving 8 months of a 4 year sentence for possessing 0.7 grams of cannabis and 2 inert dried opium poppies.

The anti-drug expert was one of 377 inmates pardoned by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in an amnesty which is reportedly a common practice in Islamic countries during religious festivals. Like Grooverider, Tatham was caught with a tiny amount of pot of Dubai airport, and was sentenced to four years after judges refused to accept his explanation that he was a UN drugs expert who picked up the marijuana traces by accident when eradicating drugs in Afghanistan.

"The bottom line is, I was in a war zone in a narco-state, advising the government on how to set up a ministry of counter narcotics,"  
Tatham told the Canadian Press upon his release.

"It was an occupational hazard of mine to be exposed to these substances (cannabis) from time to time. I should have been more careful coming out of there and just making sure that any residue from handling it had been cleared out of myself."

Tatham’s mother told reporters ‘He's had a terrible eight months and it's been terrible for our family. It's been a nightmare’ while Tatham spoke of being treated either ‘quite poorly’ or with ‘enough indifference to make it bearable’. During his incarceration he testified against prison officers who donned balaclavas and beat prisoners during a search, which his parents suggested could also have counted against him.

His release should provide hope for Radio 1 star Grooverider who faces Christmas behind bars next week after being busted on pot charges last month. The drum & bass pioneer might also draw solace from the experiences of psy-trance turned electro star Nick Taylor who served three months in a Bali prison this summer after being busted with a small amount of coke. Friends rallied round the Byron Bay as soon as he was released, including Coburn producer Tim Healey who wrote on Nick’s Myspace in November ‘Wish I could've been there!’

“Did you wear one of those suits with arrows all over it?” Tim asked, “Greetings from Sao Paolo. Big x” he added.

‘Elite wild woman’ added ‘nice to have you home where the tribe loves you and thinks you're the shit’ while ‘jüls la'Rox’ added ‘Hope your extended holiday was not too unpleasant.’ (Nick Taylor’s label)

Jonty Skrufff (