Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jun 2007
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 The Province
Author: Steven Edwards, CanWest News Service


UNITED NATIONS -- An anti-narcotics official from Vancouver is being 
held in Dubai after being arrested for possessing hashish and poppy flowers.

A Dubai court will rule Tuesday on drug charges against Bert Tatham, 
35, who was arrested on his way back to Vancouver after helping 
farmers in Afghanistan find alternatives to poppy cultivation.

Tatham is accused of carrying 0.6 grams of hashish -- an almost trace 
amount that his lawyers said had inadvertently become attached to his 
clothing because of the nature of his work.

Dubai authorities also said Tatham had two, two-year-old dried poppy 
flowers, which have no utility to make opium or heroin, and traces of 
narcotics in his blood.

Dubai has zero tolerance toward drug possession.

Tatham was returning to his home in Vancouver in late April to join 
his fiancee, Sarah of Victoria, and plan their marriage.

His family is preparing to launch a campaign for his release if he is 
convicted of possessing narcotics. He would face a sentence of at 
least four years.

"I'm on the computer all day, and we're working like crazy for him," 
said Tatham's mother, Louise, from her home in Collingwood, just 
north of Toronto.

"We have to respect their laws, [but] if he is convicted, we'll then 
start with publicity because we have to get him out."

Chuck Tatham, Bert's brother, said in Toronto he is not surprised 
that hashish traces ended up attached to his brother's clothes.

"He laundered his clothes and was fastidious, but the stuff is 
everywhere," he said. "People would give him some after meetings, and 
to avoid being discourteous, he would accept it, and dispose of it later.

"But he was not a user. He has observed the evils of drugs -- and he 
has spoken to me a number of times about the devastation they have 
caused in the region."

He speculated his brother planned to use the poppies as props in lectures.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom