Dubai – A bereaved schoolgirl will be stripped of her Muslim father’s £500,000 (approx. R9.2m) inheritance after a sharia court in Dubai was wrongly told that she is a Christian.
Paris Shahravesh, 14, was due to inherit the money from her banker father Pedro dos Santos, 51, after he suddenly died in the United Arab Emirates of a heart attack in March.
But his second wife Samah Al Hammadi, 42, is said to have been awarded the windfall instead after a Dubai court was incorrectly informed about the religion that the schoolgirl, from Richmond in London, follows.
According to the form of sharia law used in the UAE non-Muslims cannot inherit the estate of a Muslim – and vice-versa.
This is the latest spat in a long-running bitter row between the schoolgirl’s family and her father’s second wife.
On a visit to attend Mr Santos’s funeral in April, the teenager’s mother, Laleh Shahravesh, was held in the UAE for almost a month after she was reported to the police for abusing Mrs Al Hammadi online and branding her a “horse” on Facebook.
The 55-year-old escaped six months in jail under Dubai’s strict cyber crime laws after a court ruled she could leave after paying a £600 (approx R11 000) fine.
She has now begun legal proceedings to overturn the court ruling on her daughter’s inheritance.
“A judge would have made that decision if he was given the wrong information,” the volunteer worker told MailOnline.
“I am a Muslim and my daughter is a British Muslim.” She added that Mrs Al Hammadi, who lived in Dubai with the HSBC banker, “made every effort to isolate Pedro from our daughter during his life and now she is trying to exclude her after his death. It is beyond sad”.
Mrs Al Hammadi, who runs an archery school, said: “I put all my documents and Pedro’s documents to the court and I mentioned to them that he has a daughter and sisters.
“But the judge informed me that there is no heritage, only from Muslim to Muslim. I am Muslim, Pedro was a Muslim but Paris is Christian. This is not my decision. It’s the court’s decision.”
Miss Shahravesh estimates her ex-husband’s estate is worth close to R9.2m – including a bonus, his pension and death-in-service benefit which can be up to three times an annual salary. Mr Santos was earning up to £120,000 (Approx. R2.2m) a year tax-free before he died, she added.