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Finnish woman among missing in plot to spring UAE princess

An investigation is underway into the disappearance of a Finnish national believed to be wrapped up in the case of a missing UAE princess and a former French spy.

Image: REX

A Finnish national has been reported missing after contact was lost with her while living in Dubai. The woman was officially reported missing to the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 11 March. She had been unaccounted for for over a week before, family members said in a press statement.

The British NGO Detained in Dubai says (siirryt toiseen palveluun) the disappearance is apparently connected with the disappearance of two other individuals: a daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, who is also prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates.

The third individual reported missing is a French-US national, a former French secret service agent and author of Escape from Dubai, a non-fiction account of his escape from the country in 2008 on the heels of a failed submarine business venture.

The woman's brother said in a statement that his sister is capoeira instructor and personal trainer to the Dubai ruler's daugther, and the two reportedly became close friends.

"Naturally we take cases such as these extremely seriously," said Juha Savolainen, unit director for consular assistance.

"In addition to our Ministry we have our embassies in Abu Dhabi and Riadh in contact with local authorities. We have also coordinated efforts with Finnish police on the case," said Savolainen.

"Gunfire nearby"

Radha Stirling, CEO of the British NGO Detained in Dubai, said in a statement that contact with the trio was lost following a distress call for emergency assistance that the Dubai ruler's daughter made to Stirling. In the call, the Sheikh's daughter reported she could hear gunfire nearby.

According to a statement by Detained in Dubai, who specialise in UAE civil and criminal justice, the US-French national had informed the NGO that the trio were headed to India aboard a US registered yacht called Nostromo, allegedly in an attempt to smuggle the princess out of the UAE. In a video reportedly sent to a US lawyer, the young woman described her reasons for wanting to flee, including claims of a restrictive life in UAE.

The getaway attempt is reportedly not the first, as she described in the video a previous escape attempt in 2002, which she claimed led to torture and three years in prison.

Family makes plea

The missing Finn's brother said in a statement that the family had appointed Detained in Dubai to act on its behalf in the case. This includes the addition of the missing woman's name to a complaint to the United Nations that will be filed by Toby Cabman of Guernica, an international law specialist.

On Tuesday 20 March, Finland's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said that an investigation into the disappearance of a Finnish national resident in Dubai was underway. The NBI said an investigation was being carried out in close cooperation with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Edit: This story was updated at 5.40 pm on 22 March to remove all names for consistency with Yle's Finnish-language reporting on this case.

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