Jonathan Nash, a businessman from Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, was sentenced to 37-years in prison over a bounced check in Qatar. He now thinks he will die behind the bars without getting a chance to see his family again.
“I'm not sure that I will ever get out," Nash told his friend, according to Mail Online. "What is causing me the most pain is that I may never see my family again. I don't know who else to turn to."
The father of two has not seen his children and his elderly mother, Jennie Nash, in over three years — since he was sent to the Central Prison of Doha.
“All my pleas have so far been ignored and I've come to the realization that I may die in prison or be a very old man if I ever do leave this place,” the devastated man said of his sentence.
Nash was given an extremely harsh sentence for a minor crime.
The 48-year-old is the former CEO of a construction management company known as Top House. He reportedly wrote a check in advance, as an assurance of payment in the future, but believes lies and rumors were spread about him in a campaign that made his clients think he could not be trusted.
In response, the clients started withdrawing cash from the checks he had handed them in advance.
There was a dispute within Top House and the company had to block the payments, since the checks were written on behalf of the company.
Under the Qatari law, since the checks were written by Nash, he was personally accountable for the haphazardness. He was thrown in jail in March 2015 for fraud.
Since then, the businessman has only appeared in court once to confirm he issued and signed the check that landed him in so much trouble. He told the court he was unable to make the payments from his own pocket.
According to Nash, he has been sharing a cockroach-infested cell with 12 other inmates. They sleep in a terrible setting of a wafer-thin mattress or the cold, hard floor otherwise.
The cruel part about his 37-year sentence was not only the verdict itself but how it was handed out when Nash was not even present. He was neither given a right to speak for himself nor given legal representation, according to reports.
The CEO of UAE-based civil and criminals justice group Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, warned the inhumane treatment could harm the relations between the U.K. and Qatar, which is due to host the Football World Cup Tournament in 2022.
“The British public is shocked by the harshness of the sentence imposed upon Jonathan Nash; and with a background of serious legal irregularities in his case, this has caused concern among U.K. businesspeople and investors about the advisability of doing business in Qatar, when one can so easily be incarcerated for life over what is essentially an internal dispute within a company,” Stirling said. “Our intention with this letter is to draw the attention of the emir not only to Jonathan's plight in particular, but also to the procedural shortcomings which we believe led to his unjust sentence.”
It is also important to point out only three days after his arrest, Nash negotiated 5 million Qatari riyals with Mashreq Bank to cover debts. However, the officials refused to take that into account.
Nash was informed his company’s assets, which included cars as well as furniture, have been sold off. He also found out his funds have disappeared.
His children, 77-year-old mother and ex-wife are all praying for his safe return.
“Jonathan's detention and heavy prison sentence have left us all reeling, we feel so helpless and we are really concerned for his well-being and safety,” Jennie Nash said.