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Britons jailed, fined in Dubai beach sex trial

Mary Nammour
Filed on October 16, 2008

DUBAI - The British couple accused of having sex on the Jumeirah beach were jailed on Thursday by the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors. Both Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors was sentenced to three months in jail and a fine of Dh 1000.

Acors pleaded not guilty to having sex, but a prosecution official was quoted as saying he initially admitted the offence before changing his story.

Followed by deportation after they were convicted on the charges that the Public Prosecution had brought against them.

The presiding judge in the case Hamdi Moustapha Abul Kheir pronounced the verdict in the case. 'The three-month jail sentence and the deportation were awarded as the couple was convicted for illicit consensual sex and public indecency. The fine was for the intoxication,' Judge Abul Khair said announcing the verdict.

Both accused were not present in the court when the verdict was announced.

The couple has 15 days to appeal, and a legal source close to them told Khaleej Times that they would do so 'as soon as possible.' He said that he would also demand that the couple remain free on bail pending the appeal.

Palmer, 37, a former media executive and Acors, 34, were arrested last July 5 after they were caught having sex on the beach after midnight.

They were charged with having sex outside wedlock, public indecency and consumption of liquor.

Palmer was fired from her job at a publishing company shortly after she had been charged.

The couple had requested the court panel to examine their case quickly as 'they wanted to be over with it as soon as possible'.

The police officer who had spotted the duo having sex on Jumeirah beach around 1 pm that night was expected to testify at the court proceedings. However, he failed to show up at the court twice during the trial. Before the case went to trial he had told interrogators that he came to know about the matter when he was approached by some agitated beach-goers. 'I brought my torch from the patrol car and went to the location. I found the couple in a compromising position. I warned them and went away. When I returned I found the woman on top of the man.'

Surprisingly, no defense lawyer was present in the court throughout the trial to represent the accused. The Criminal Evidence Report, however, showed that no traces of semen were found inside Michelle Palmer. Their urine samples, however, tested positive for alcohol.

The case has received an extensive coverage in the British and local press and turned the spotlight on the lifestyle of British residents of the UAE, who number over 120,000, around 100,000 in Dubai.

mary@khaleejtimes.com

Send usyour comments

Such acts of indecency should be dealt with more strictness and people should respect the culture and lifestyle of the region. What do you think, have your say

I'm an American, lived all over the world and can tell you that the behavior exhibited by this couple is not acceptable ANYWHERE in the world! I am sick of the media's exaggerated attempts to make this about a culture clash: it's not. It's about aberrant behaviour on the part of people who should have known better. Trust me, they'd have been arrested for doing the same thing in San Francisco, London or any other liberal city. Dubai is the most tolerant and open city in the Middle East - this is not about Dubai! As for Shereen's comments, it wasn't love, it was lust from the bottom of a bottle, big difference. Mr. Acors, going wild on holiday, had a wife at home. They were lucky to have gotten away with only 3 months + AED1,000 fine! – Elan, Dubai

UAE has given much freedom to every national in their country, I saw people especially Muslim girls wearing Abayia covering their whole body, and I also witnessed non Muslims girls even wearing shorts. Although UAE is a typical Muslim country yet it has given freedom under some limits, I support the decision of local court, non-Muslim should show some respect for the law.– Muhammad Aamir, Dubai

Yes, it has to be like that. Nobody is above the law. Western peoples should also realize that there are rules and regulations of living in Muslim country. 2nd thing, if anybody will do anything against the law in the western countries, nobody can put pressure on judiciary or their Governments. Western countries thought that they can cancel any decision in small countries by putting pressure. This attitude needs to be stopped. – Syed Muhammad Faisal, Kuwait

Come on guys. Please have mercy on those couples. They are already going thru hell. I agree what they did is wrong but I’m sure they were not aware of UAE law that unfortunate night. Of course when you’re in love and with your beloved you don’t think of any boundaries. This type of behaviour may be normal in USA and Europe but In UAE this is not allowed. This type of indecency is totally prohibited and punished and we have to abide and respect the country law. I feel the punishment should have been just deportation and some fine. Very rarely you commit mistakes knowing the consequences. i hope you guys agree. – Shereen, Dubai

When an expat moves to a country where there are ceratin rules and laws in respect of a country's religion and culture, it's not more than logical that these laws are followed. I am a European living in Bahrain, and I know the rules here and I follow them. You have to understand that though some Gulf countries are very liberal, there is a limit. I feel They are punished as they should be. – Marijke Fox, Bahrain

If they don't know how to respect the local culture and values, and they cannot control their animal instincts, let them stay where they come from. I think they should have faced with more strict punishment, which will be lesson for others. – Nadeem Ahmed, Dubai

The sentence is too lenient. – Sameer, Dubai

I was compelled to join the fray after I realised that some people were defending the acts of the accused in the sex on the beach case. Yes, Asians have poor representation in terms of support coming from their own embassies, but they are also people who respect the values and cultures of the land that has given them so much. Debauchery by no means can be justified. I mean can you do something like this in Saudi Arabia and get away with it. No, and no one dares do it there. Dubai is a free market enterprise and they have indeed given people the freedom and liberty to live their lives as long as they don’t cross the line. People have got to respect it and if they don't they will have to suffer the consequences. - Joydeep Bose, Ras Al Khaimah

So both the accused have gotten away with light sentences! What's the big deal. They had a good lawyer, and their embassy probably supported them in their hour of need. It's not their fault that people of non-European origins have no support whatsover coming from their government and have to suffer a worse fate at the hands of the judicial system. – Martin Locklear, Abu Dhabi

I think Abdul Salam is making a mountain out of a molehill. These guys have suffered enough for their misdemeanours. The woman lost her job and has been attracting enough of unsavoury publicity. Let them be. And no the judgement has nothing to do with the colour of their skin. There is no racism here and all these notions are just a product of sick imagination. – Patricia Arquette, Abu Dhabi

Hear hear hear. Mr Abdul Salam must certainly suffer from the insecurities that prevail in the minds of third world residents. Everything is viewed from a narrow perspective of race and colour. Its people like him that sow the seeds of hate in the minds of unsuspecting public. I think he is being jealous of people who seem to have done well for themselves. After all the Europeans are here because they are good at the things they do. – John Hartnett, Dubai

I presume Mr Abdul Salam is of Asian origin. He's raked up an issue that has the potential to snowball into a big controversy. I urge people like him to keep their conservative attitudes behind their four walls. People are here to live the good life. So you will have cases like these coming up now and then. We should learn to live and let live. – David Green, Dubai

I think both the accused have got away with light sentences. Three months of imprisonment and a fine of just 1000 dirhams! That's not enough. A more stringent sentencing would have sent out the right signal to people who think it is ok to abuse the freedom that has been provided to them. Does anyone disagree? – Abdul Salam, Dubai

I was wondering if this was to happen for Asian Nationals. Do you think that the legal system will take a similar course in terms of the punishment. I leave it for you to decide. – Joypo, UAE

Sure, I totally agree with the judgment. It’s too little. They should have been sentenced to more time i jail and more fine. Respect the culture of the country Man! BEHAVE this is not UK you are guest I live in the US on holiday to Dubai the beautiful island. – Des, Jumeirah, Dubai

Definitely it’s about time that the people start respecting the local culture & know their limits just, because they belong to that kind of culture does not mean they go around the globe to exhibit acts that are considered to be shameful in this part of the world. Should get more severe sentence & no more chances of appealing & should be behind bars throughout their trial. – Kamran Ali, Dubai

The sentence does not seem strict for the nature of offence. Is it because of their western passport? Asians would have got worse sentence - for sure. – Mahesh Dubai

The people who commit these kind of offenses should be donated with minatory penalties and a heavy fine. These kind of people should know the rules and regulations of the country in which they are residing. – Abdul Azeem, Muscat

I agree that such acts must be dealt with strictness in order to maintain/secure the cultural values of the region. – Ehsan Ali, Dubai


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