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Princess Latifa urges reopening of sister's kidnap case in 'new letter from captivity' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Princess Latifa urges reopening of sister's kidnap case in 'new letter from captivity'

Latifa was captured from a boat by commandos. [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 February, 2021

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Latifa's sister, Shamsa, was 18 when she escaped from her father's Longcross Estate in the UK in August 2000. She has not been seen in public since.

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Latifa, UAE
The daughter of Dubai's ruler, who claims to have been held in captivity since a failed escape attempt in 2018, has appealed to UK police to reopen an investigation into the kidnap of her older sister from Cambridge more than 20 years ago. 

In a new handwritten letter passed to friends, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktout issued a plea with Cambridgeshire police to investigate the disappearance of her sister, Princess Shamsa, whom she claims was captured on the orders of their father, the BBC has reported.

“All I ask of you is to please give attention on her case because it could get her freedom... your help and attention on her case could free her," she wrote, according to BBC News which has seen the letter.

It was written in 2019, while held in solitary confinement in a Dubai villa cum jail.

Sheikha Shamsa was 18 when she escaped from her father's Longcross Estate in Surrey in August 2000.

According to her cousin, Marcus Essabri, she "wanted to make a difference for women in the Arab world especially. She wanted to push the boundaries, this is when the problems started".

Essabri said her father, then crown prince of Dubai, did not allow her to pursue her studies and go to university.

She fled to Cambridge, where she was forcefully taken by helicopter to France and then flown back to Dubai, according to reports.

Cambridgeshire police launched a kidnap investigation in 2001 after Shamsa made contact via an immigration lawyer. The investigation hit a dead end when officers were blocked from going to Dubai.

Read also: Dubai's Princess Sheikha Latifa says fears for life as held 'hostage'

Sheikha Shamsa, who is now 39, has not been seen in public since. The British broadcaster spoke to someone who had regular contact with her in Dubai, who said she was tranquilised "all the time".

In a statement to BBC News, Cambridgeshire Police said it had received Sheikha Latifa's letter, which "will be looked at as part of the ongoing review".

"This is a very complex and serious matter and as such there are details of the case that it would be inappropriate to discuss publicly," the statement said.

The Foreign Office told BBC News this was a private family matter and that it had no role in the investigation by Cambridgeshire Constabulary or its outcome.

A London high court ruled in 2019 that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum had abducted both daughters and held them against their will.

Last week, BBC Panorama broadcast videos secretly recorded by Latifa, in which she described how she was being held "hostage" by her father following a failed escape attempt from Dubai to India in 2018.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the footage was "deeply troubling" and that the UK would "watch very closely developments on that front". The UN has since asked the United Arab Emirates for proof that Sheikha Latifa is alive.

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