A secret meeting between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan on October 30 proceeded the successful appeal of two Australian businessman convicted in the emirate on bribery charges.
According to a report by Cameron Stewart in The Australian, the PM raised the plight of the pair with UAE government officials.
Matthew Joyce and Marcus Lee had been under house arrest in the country for more than four years after being accused of a bribery scandal involving the Australian property developer Sunland. They were acquitted of the crime in a parallel case in Australia but found guilty in the UAE.
At the weekend Joyce won an appeal against his conviction, for which he received a 10 year jail sentence and $25 million fine. Prosecutors also lost an appeal against the earlier acquittal of Lee.
The meeting took place as Abbott was on his way back from visiting Australian troops in Afghanistan, and was not announced.
In opposition, the prime minister had described the treatment of the pair as harsh, and their case was also championed by the former Labor government.
Prosecutors have 30 days in which to appeal the new decision awarded to Joyce, after which time both could be free to return to Australia, meaning they may be home by Christmas.
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