25 Feb 2014

NZ trio face drugs charges in UAE

7:16 am on 25 February 2014

Three New Zealand citizens facing drugs charges in the United Arab Emirates will appear in court on Monday.

Four New Zealanders were arrested in Sharjah two months ago but one has since been released.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says consular staff have met the detainees to check on their well-being three times since they were arrested on 19 December.

The Dubai correspondent for the British newspaper Financial Times, Simeon Kerr, says the UAE has strict drug laws, which theoretically can include the death penalty.

"Quite often when Westerners get embroilled in these cases," he says, "there are lots of concerns raised about the potential for the death penalty being used. However, in my 11 years in the UAE I've never seen a Westerner actually executed."

Mr Kerr says people convicted of drug offences usually serve between four and six years in prison.