Sheikha Latifa tried to escape because she wants to have a normal life
Tiina was detained in a secret prison for two weeks because she helped the daughter of Dubai emir to escape from her country.11 September 2018 12:56
Tiina Jauhiainen and Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of Dubai Emir Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, were in her escape from UAE on February 24th, 2018. (Tiina Jauhiainen for Albalad.co)
She is a princess, a daughter of Dubai Emir Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum. Though, she feels unhappy because she can not enjoy a normal life.
There are a lot of restrictions imposed to Sheikha Latifa binti Sheikh Muhammad bin Rasyid al-Maktoum. That's why she tried to escape twice. The last effort in last February, but she was caught again and taken back forcedly to United Arab of Emirates (UAE).
She got help from her two friends, former French spy Jean-Pierre Herve and Finnish woman Tiina Jauhiainen, when she tried to escape for the second time.
"She asked me to help her so I agreed to do so," said Tiina in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp today. "She was dropped off to a cafe where I was waiting for her. Close to Dubai Mall. I was waiting outside for the driver to see me."
How did you get to know with Sheikha Latifa?
She contacted me in 2010 for capoeira lessons. So I started giving her classes on a private basis
At her palace or at your place?
At a club that belongs to the Maktoum family, it's located very close to the Zabeel Palace. That's the palace of Sheikh Muhammad. That club has all sporting facilities. I was allowed to go in as her trainer.
Why did she want to learn capoeira?
I believe to distract herself from the life she otherwise had. She would enjoy trying new things.
Did she learn alone or with other princess?
How long she learnt copeira?
Around 1,5-2 years we did capoeira but continued doing other sports too. That's when we became good friends. And in 2013 we started skydiving together.
During that time, have you met with Dubai emir?
I didn't meet Sheikh Muhammad. Even Latifa didn't... only during official events. As she didn't live in the main palace but in another one with her mother and two sisters
When did she tell you about her problems with emir?
Well, she told me from almost beginning how her family life was but she only told me about her torture in 2016.
What kind of torture she received? Where and when?
She tried to escape in 2002. So when they caught her she was locked up for 3,5 years. She was kept in a solitary confinement.
Lights on or off for days, beaten up by her father's men, sleep in a broken mattress, no clothes to change or even a toothbrush. Later on she was given washing powder for clothes and she used it to was her body. She was brought back to her mother's house after.
Why did she decide to escape for second time?
Because she wanted to have a normal life and in order to help her sister Shamsa also. She was tired of waiting. Years were passing and she hadn't even left UAE for two decades
Is there any discriminative actions taken by emir among his daughters?
Yes definitely. Some of them have more freedom than the others. I assume it depends on who their mothers are. Those having European mother for example have a lot of freedom. Also those who have Emirati as in local mothers are considered better than those who have foreign mothers. Almost like a cast system in my opinion.
Do you mean Latifa's mother is not Emirati or European?
Her mother is from Algeria. Dubai emir has four children from that mother. Latifa is the second youngest of them
Do you help her to escape?
She asked me to help her so I agreed to do so.
How did she escape from her palace?
She could go out with a driver and a maid in the car. I met her that morning.
When was that?
Where did youu meet her that morning?
She was dropped off to a cafe where I was waiting for her. Close to Dubai Mall. I was waiting outside for the driver to see me.
And then how did both of you sail to India?
We drove to Oman and from there we got on a dinghy and then boarded Hervé's yacht, Nostromo. He was waiting for us.
Why did she choose to travel to India?
The plan was to fly to USA from there. It's the closest country to UAE that was recommended by Hervé being safe. As you know, most countries around are either close allies of UAE or there is war etc Also Hervé had done it before. So he made that plan.
Did she plan to ask for asylum in the US?
Yes that was the plan.
What kind of belongings she brought when escaped?
Well I had brought a suitcase of hers before the escape as I visited Hervé in Philippines. On the day itself it was just a tiny bag with some personal items. She is not a materialistic person and didn't care about leaving everything behind
How many persons on the yacht that was sailing to India?
There was three Filipino crew members, myself, Hervé, and Latifa. So there was six in total.
How did all of you get arrested? Where and when?
We were attacked by Indian special forces on 4th March in the international waters, off the coast of Goa. It was a military attack with Indian coastguard and multiple planes and helicopters involved.
Was there any gun fire at that time?
They had guns and stun grenades. We heard something that sounded like gun shots while we were still down in the cabin with Latifa. The crew was beaten up and the captain while we were hiding in the cabin. When the cabin was filled with smoke we had to go up
What did they do against Latifa and you?
I was pushed to the floor and my hands were tied. They threatened to blow my brain out or shoot me if I wasn't following their orders.
I saw Latifa later and her hands were tied also. They ignored when she was asking for asylum and told her to keep quiet, threatening to shoot her too. Then an Emirati officer came to pick her up and regardless of her screams she was taken away
I think one of the helicopters from the coast guard ships and then with a private plane from Mumbai or Goa. The rest of us were taken to UAE by sea.
Have you got any information about where she is and her condition?
No. I assume she is in the UAE but that's all. Nobody has seen or heard from her since. During my interrogation in UAE, I understood they must have spoken to get information from her.
What did they do against you in detention?
I was interrogated for hours and during the whole night also. No food or water and they told me I would get a death penalty or a life in prison for stabbing the ruler of Dubai in the back. I was not tortured, just threatened. I was kept in solitary confinement
For how long and where?
Total of three weeks from the time of attack to when I was released so about two weeks in that secret prison. I don't know where I was as they used blindfolds from arrival and also when I was taken to the airport. And also when taken from my cell to the interrogation room. So I don't know where I was
Was there any paper that you have to sign before you were released?
Yes. They made me sign papers in Arabic and also a non disclosure agreement in English and a video confession too. I was told not to disclose any information to anyone. They said Sheikh Muhammad can bring me back from anywhere if I didn't obey.