Sentence over 'indecent act' in Dubai reduced on appeal

Tuesday 05 February 2013 22.43
Conor McRedmond had his sentence reduced on appeal
Conor McRedmond had his sentence reduced on appeal

An Irishman who was sentenced to three months in prison in Dubai after being convicted of committing an "indecent act" with a British woman in a taxi has had his sentence reduced to two months on appeal.

Conor McRedmond, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, and Rebecca Blake had both denied charges of breach of honour with consent and committing "an indecent act in a taxi" when they appeared in court and were convicted in November.

They pleaded guilty to a third charge related to consumption of alcohol in public.

The court sentenced them to jail for three months and deportation in addition to a fine of 3,000 dirhams (€635) each.

Both of the sentences have now been reduced to two month jail terms.

The fines have also been reduced but the two will be deported after serving their sentences.

The case is the latest in which Westerners have fallen foul of decency laws in the United Arab Emirates.

There have been several cases in recent years of Westerners accused of violating decency laws in Dubai, the most cosmopolitan of the seven-member UAE federation.

In 2008, a British couple was found guilty of engaging in drunken sexual activity out of wedlock and in public on a beach in Dubai.

They were sentenced to three months in prison followed by deportation but had their jail terms overturned on appeal.

In 2010, another British couple were sentenced to a month in jail and fined for kissing on the mouth in a restaurant in Dubai.

The cultural chasm in the Gulf Arab state between the country's native Muslim population and Western expatriates is conspicuous in everyday life.

While Emirati women cover themselves from head to toe with a headscarf and a traditional black gown, some of their Western counterparts walk around in shorts or mini-skirts, and public beaches are full of tourists sunbathing in bikinis.

Islam bans alcohol for Muslims. In the UAE, non-Muslims can drink at most hotels and beach bars where all-you-can-drink brunches heave with revellers every weekend.

Expatriates make up more than 90% of the UAE's population.