Milwaukee musician detained in Abu Dhabi for having prescribed painkillers

Posted at 10:27 PM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-13 23:27:49-04

Roy Henning said he didn’t want to squint while doing a television interview Tuesday afternoon, so he wore his sunglasses while shifting his weight as he spoke, giving the impression of a man somewhat on edge.

That’s what happens when your best buddy is locked up in a desert prison and you don’t know if you’ll ever see him again.

Matty Gonzales, a local musician, has been locked up in Abu Dhabi since April and the stress is wearing on family and friends.

“You see this kind of thing on TV shows,” Henning said. “You never think you’re actually going to live it. Just to imagine a friend of 20-plus years that I may not ever see again, because you never know what’s going to happen in another country. It’s a little frightening.”

Gonzales, who stood up for Henning’s wedding, was in Abu Dhabi to board a cruise ship and equip the vessel as it went to sea. He was only supposed to be there for a few hours.

However, he was found to be in possession of the pain medicine Tramadol and was detained.

Gonzales proved he had been prescribed the drug by a doctor and even passed a physical exam confirming the need for the pain killer. Still, a judge ruled that he failed to declare possession of the drug and was convicted him that offense.

“I’m a little bit freaked out,” Henning said.

“He’s already missed his sister’s wedding and his mother’s funeral is on hold. She just passed away a few months ago from cancer. So, everybody’s in kind of a tense holding pattern right now,” Henning said.

We spoke to Henning as President Donald Trump touched down at Mitchell International Airport and Henning had a plea for the president.

“What I’d really ask is, that he had the crown prince of the UAE at the White House less than a month ago, to just basically plead with him to allow this American citizen to come home,” Henning said, passionately.

Gonzales could be freed before the end of Ramadan if a judge sees fit to do so. After Ramadan judges take a month-long recess, which would ensure that Gonzales would stay locked up at least until that break is over.