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Derby Won't Bar Sheikh Over His Daughter's Disappearance

Dubai's ruler is accused of kidnapping his daughter after she tried to flee
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2021 2:44 PM CDT

(Newser) – No action will be taken against the owner of the favorite in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, despite a complaint filed against him concerning his daughter's disappearance. Human rights lawyers and students from the University of Louisville had asked the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to suspend Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum until he proves that his daughter Princess Latifa is alive. She tried to leave Dubai in 2018 and was taken from a boat off the coast of India. She hasn't been seen in public since, and human rights activists have accused her father, Dubai's ruler, of holding her hostage. The Racing Commission announced that Sheikh Mohammed did not violate its rules, CNN reports. The complaint had argued that his conduct reflected poorly on the integrity of the sport, and so he could be barred from the race.

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The panel rejected a similar complaint two years ago, saying it was based on media reports, Linda Blackford writes in an op-ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader. This time, the lawyers brought a British court's finding, per the BBC, that Sheikh Mohammed had two daughters abducted. At the time, he said the decision "tells only one side of the story." Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among the supporters of the Free Latifa campaign. One of the law professors called the derby decision "deeply wrong," saying the commission has found in the past that it could bar anyone for "misconduct that is far less egregious" than the allegations facing Sheikh Mohammed. "The message of today's decision is that if someone is rich and powerful enough, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will give them a free pass," he said. Officials said the sheikh, who owns Essential Quality, will not attend the race Saturday. (Read more Kentucky Derby stories.)

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