Abu Dhabi court of appeals on Tuesday reversed the death sentence of Fida Kiwan, an Israeli woman who stood trial for drug offenses.
The ruling came three months after a lower court's initial ruling, which was then appealed. The sentence will be replaced by a prison term, the duration of which has not yet been announced.
Kiwan was accused of possession of half a kilo of cocaine that was found in her apartment
Sabah, Fida’s mother, told Ynet that the family was feeling great relief at the ruling. “Thank god, blessed be his name,” she said adding that she thanks the government and authorities of the UAE. “That’s important to me,” she said.
Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej said he was pleased at the ruling.
“I’m glad for the reversal of the death penalty. I worked on the issue with my friend, UAE Ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja who also contributed to the efforts to save Fida’s life. The UAE is our true friend and I thank Abu Dhabi’s court for its decision,” Frej said.
Kiwan, who owns a photography studio in Haifa, was arrested on March 17 after being invited by a Palestinian acquaintance for work in graphic design in the UAE.
She arrived in Dubai to an apartment arranged for her, but a week later local police conducted a search of the premises and found the drugs that were in an amount sufficient to be considered for drug trafficking. Kiwan claimed the drugs did not belong to her.
Violation of drug laws in the UAE are considered serious crimes and punishment is usually severe. Although many such offenses receive the death penalty, courts usually reverse the sentence and demand a long period of incarceration.
Kiwan's relative travelled to the UAE after the initial sentencing – but authorities prevented them from appearing in court.
One relative said that Kiwan went on a hunger strike in protest, and claimed the investigators tried to make her confess although she had not committed a crime.
“It’s all lies. Kiwan was not dealing drugs,” a friends said. “She is a successful woman, she has a steady job. We are certain the drugs belonged to someone else. They should have checked where the drugs came from and not build a case against her which could ruin her life,” Kwan's friend said.