Wednesday, July 09, 2008

British woman faces six years for sex on Dubai beach

July 9, 2008-Times

A British businesswoman is facing six years in a Dubai jail after she was allegedly caught having sex on a beach.
Michelle Palmer, 30, a publishing firm manager, says that she is “panicking” after being arrested by a police officer who saw her with a man on Jumeirah Beach in the tiny oil-rich state.
It has been reported that she was charged with having sex outside marriage, indecent behaviour in public, being drunk in public and assaulting a police officer.
Ms Palmer is said to be worried that the authorities will push for the harshest possible sentence to make an example of her behaviour.
It is thought that she works in Dubai for a magazine publishing firm and that the man also accused in connection with the incident was a British holidaymaker.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Two British nationals were arrested in Dubai on July 5. We are providing consular assistance and the case is currently under investigation.”
Ms Palmer faces a sentence of between three months and six years in jail in the state, one of seven that makes up the United Arab Emirates. Her fellow accused faces a similar sentence.
The Foreign Office website says that in Dubai public displays of affection are unacceptable, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Sex outside marriage is illegal in the UAE, as is cohabitation, adultery and homosexual behaviour.
Ms Palmer said: “Because this is known everywhere they’re going to make an example of us and we’re going to get a higher sentence. We are in so much trouble and my family and everybody are affected. Until someone is in this situation they could never know what it’s like. It’s bad - it’s so, so bad.
“They are being pushed into a corner to make an example of us. I’m panicking. I can’t say anything else.”
In recent years, Dubai has become a popular tourist destination, with British holidaymaker tempted by the warm sea, perfect beaches and luxurious hotels.
In 2006 more than a million British visitors travelled to the UAE, and more than 100,000 British nationals are resident there.
In February, Radio 1 DJ Grooverider, whose real name is Raymond Bingham, was jailed for four years after two grams of cannabis was found in his luggage when he tried to enter the country.
Four years’ imprisonment is a common sentence for drugs possession, and trafficking carries the death penalty.

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