Two Dubai expats who were sentenced to three months in jail for allegedly having sex in the back of a taxi last year have had their sentence reduced to two months by an appeal court, it was reported on Wednesday.
Rebecca Blake, a 30-year old businesswoman from Croydon, UK and Conor McRedmond, a 29-year old welder from Tullamore in Ireland, had their three month jail sentence reduced to two months at a Dubai court.
The couple pleaded guilty to drinking alcohol and had their fine reduced from around US$800 fine to US$540, while they continued to refute charges they had sex in the back of Dubai taxi in May 2012.
Shaker Al Shammary, the couple’s Al Ain-based lawyer, said he expected them to be freed at the hearing on Tuesday and the couple plan to appeal the case to the Dubai Supreme Court.
"The medical reports which indicate they did not have sex exonerate them completely," Al Shammary told British newspaper The Telegraph. "Reducing the sentence makes no sense. If they were truly guilty, they would have been given three years," he added.
The couple was arrested when they got into a taxi cab after a 10 hour drinking session and the driver pulled over to complain to a policeman they had been having sexual intercourse.
The case is the latest in which Westerners have fallen foul of the United Arab Emirates' decency laws, highlighting cultural differences as the UAE seeks a balance between maintaining its Muslim identity and catering for a vibrant tourism industry.
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.