Daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohamad bin Rashid Al Maktoum has said that she was captured by Indian special forces three years ago on a boat off the coast of India and that she was tranquilised and carried onto a private jet.
According to a report by the Times of India, Princess Lateefa was captured despite kicking and screaming that she was seeking political asylum.
In the first video footage seen of Latifa since she was sent back to Dubai, the 35-year-old described how on 4 March 2018, around 12 to 15 Indian commandos and two Emirati sergeants came on board her yacht and one injected her with what she presumed were tranquilisers.
The Indian government has never commented on its involvement. On Wednesday the UN said it would raise the developments with the UAE.
Latifa’s Finnish friend Tina Jauhiainen, who was on the yacht, described to BBC Panorama’s ‘The Missing Princess’ on how they were both asleep when they heard noises on the upper deck which sounded like gunshots.
“The boat was taken over by Indian special forces. Latifa was lying on the floor and her hands were tied behind her back and she kept repeating ‘I am seeking political asylum’ but they were not listening,” said Jauhiainen.
Latifa was taken to an Indian military ship, the programme said.
“The commandos carried me to a big room where there were four or five generals. I repeated that I want to get asylum and don’t want to go to Dubai. Then I saw a private jet,” said Latifa.
Next an Emirati commando picked her up as she was kicking, so she bit him, she said. Another man tranquilised her again.
“They put me on a stretcher and I passed out as they carried me onto the jet. When I woke up, I found the jet had landed in Dubai. I have been in solitary confinement ever since without medical access,” she said.
A year later, Jauhiainen managed to get a phone to her. Latifa started to make videos locked in the bathroom in a Dubai villa where, she said, she was held hostage, guarded by police officers. Several months ago the messages Jauhiainen sent were not received. This spurred her to release the videos to Panorama.
In one video, Latifa explains how she was tricked by her stepmother, Princess Haya, to meet Mary Robinson, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, when the UN was investigating her disappearance.
She said Haya had told her that if she acted well at the lunch, she would be released soon.
“I was never told Mary Robinson was the former UN human rights commissioner. Had I known, I would have said everything to her,” she said.
Photos of that lunch were released by the UAE to prove Latifa was fine and Robinson gave media interviews saying the same. But on Panorama, Robinson claims she was misled.
Back in the villa, nothing changed for Latifa and she was back in her “prison”, with no new clothes or medical access, not even a toothbrush.