WASHINGTON — For Zack Shahin and his Houston family, the nightmare continues. Day after day, year after year.
Shahin has been jailed in Dubai since 2008 after being arrested and accused of various financial improprieties in his job as CEO of a Dubai development company.
Since then, he has been acquitted of one charge; had another charge dropped; and been convicted of yet another charge, but won reversal of that conviction. He currently stands convicted of nothing.
In the meantime, he has missed his son's high school graduation; his daughter's sweet sixteen celebration; and all the days in between that make up six years of family life.
Now, as his lawyers grow increasingly frustrated with both the snail's-pace legal proceedings and the State Department's inability to find a diplomatic avenue to secure his freedom, Shahin waits in jail for yet another trial. And his family struggles on without him.
Shahin, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Lebanon, met his wife Soha in Houston in 1991. He married her that year and quickly advanced in the business world, working for Pepsico first in the United States and later in the United Arab Emirates, and then in banking.
Then he accepted a position as CEO of Deyaar Development in Dubai.
On March 23, 2008, Shahin was arrested at his office, and was accused of bribery, embezzlement and other improprieties.
A statement on a website posted by supporters alleges that Shahin was subjected to harsh interrogation methods including sleep deprivation, threats with torture devices, marathon interrogation sessions, and threats against his family.
According to the statement "all the financial transactions and activities alleged to be in violation of law were signed and approved by the Board of Directors and board chairman of the company, and subject to quarterly and annual audits ... by Ernst & Young."
No formal charges were filed against Shahin for the first 13 months of his detention.
Shahin's lawyers, James Jatras and Eric Akers, can do nothing to speed the case along.
"Usually there's a hearing every two months," Akers said. "Sometimes the arbitrators show up, sometimes the witnesses show up, sometimes they don't."