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British kissing couple awaits jail verdict in Dubai: lawyer

world Updated: Mar 14, 2010 19:04 IST

AFP
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A British couple accused of kissing in public in the Muslim emirate of Dubai will find out next month if an appeals court will uphold their one-month prison sentence, their lawyer said on Sunday.

The couple is accused of "committing a sexual act (by) kissing on the lips and touching," lawyer Khalaf al-Hosani said. "A final verdict will be reached on April 4," by the Misdemeanours Appeals Court, he said.

The two, named by the British press as Ayman Najafi, 24, a British expat in Dubai, and British tourist Charlotte Lewis, 25, were arrested in November, after an Emirati woman accused them of kissing in a restaurant in the trendy Jumeirah Beach Residence neighbourhood.

They are also accused of consuming alcohol, a charge to which they pleaded guilty, but said they only kissed on the cheek.

They were convicted in January and sentenced to one month in prison. But they have been on bail since their arrest, with their passports held by the authorities, Hosani said.

The lawyer said he told court that the only witness, a 38-year-old Emirati woman, has presented different statements.

"She told the police that she saw them kissing, while she told the prosecution that her children saw them," he said, adding that the defence is arguing that the couple only kissed on the cheek "as a greeting" which is allowed.

British embassy spokesman, Simon Goldsmith, said the UK mission was "aware of the arrest of a British national on November 27," and that "consular assistance was provided at the time," but declined to provide further details.

Dubai is a popular destination for British tourists. Around 1.1 million British nationals visited the United Arab Emirates in 2009, but the city state still adheres to certain strict Islamic rules, and bans sex outside marriage.

More than 100,000 British nationals live in the UAE.