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  • Writer's pictureDue Process International

Family of bodyguard facing year in Dubai prison appeal for support


Bodyguard to the stars sentenced to one year in Dubai jail for "doing his job".

Miami VIP bodyguard Cornell Whitfield has been sentenced to 1 year in Dubai’s notorious jail after putting himself in the line of fire when acting as security for R&B singer Trey Songz in Dubai.


His lawyer is filing an appeal to the charge of “assault” after he slapped a Jordanian man who was drunk and acting in a threatening and aggressive way in front of the FIVE Palm Jumeirah hotel. The man initially demanded US$60,000 to drop the criminal allegations, but Whitfield didn’t have the money and assumed the Dubai justice system would acquit him as he was acting in self defence and exercised restraint when protecting his client.


Hotel security, CCTV and witnesses all supported Whitfield’s diligent response and interception of the assailant. “He was just doing his job and never expected the man would make a complaint considering it was him who was acting that way”, says his cousin.

Whitfield had hoped to be able to resolve the case quietly but was shocked when a Dubai court sentenced him to a year in prison. He is now fighting for his freedom and to be reunited with his family including his two year old son.


“If a bodyguard can be jailed for protecting his client, should celebrities really be supporting Dubai?” asks Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “Foreigners are seen as prey by locals who know they will pay large sums of money to have frivolous or false cases dropped. Locals have turned Dubai’s police force into an extortion tool making it extremely risky for tourists”.


Whitfield’s family have set up a GoFundMe to raise support. “He has already lost more than $35,000 in legal fees and hotel bills”, reports his cousin, Sarena George, who set up the fundraiser.

“We are really hoping the judge at least overturns the custodial sentence”, says his Miami based mother, Marysia. “He needs to be home with his family and his little boy. I can’t bear the thought of him being locked up in a place so far away. It’s one thing if he committed a genuine crime, but he was just doing his job. He didn’t ask for any trouble”.


Marysia and Sarena have contacted his congressional representative Frederica Wilson, pleading for diplomatic support from the US State Department. It is certainly not too late for diplomatic intervention. The CCTV evidence shows Whitfield acting in self defence and that he should not be jailed in Dubai.

 

Radha Stirling CEO at Detained in Dubai

+44 7 309 114 195

 

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