The Norwegian woman sentenced to jail in Dubai after reporting that she was raped was personally sacked by Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana for “unacceptable and improper behaviour”, according to the termination letter obtained by a Norwegian newspaper.
In the letter, dated April 9 and signed by Al Mana, who secretly married Janet Jackson last year, Marte Deborah Dalelv was told her employment was terminated “for misconduct and breach of your employment duties”.
The termination letter was issued over three weeks after the Norwegian woman withdrew all rape allegations and, according to Al Mana Interiors, only after the employee ceased all communication with Al Mana Interiors.
The 24-year-old had been living in Qatar and working for Al Mana Interiors, a Doha-based interior design business registered as a franchise of The ONE, the Dubai-based company owned by Swedish businessman Thomas Lundgren.
Dalelv was in Dubai for a short business trip in March when she claims she was raped by her Sudanese colleague after she asked him to escort her to her room at the end of a work event where they had both been drinking alcohol.
She immediately reported the incident to Dubai police, who charged her with extramarital sex and illegal consumption of alcohol. In connection with these charges, the UAE court subsequently determined that the parties had engaged in consensual sex.
She spent four days in prison before being bailed to live at a Norwegian church in Dubai.
She claims a manager from Al Mana Interiors later advised her to tell police the sex was consensual and the matter would be dropped. Instead, she was also charged with making a false statement.
In a statement, Al Mana Interiors said the manager was translating advice given by a Dubai police officer in Arabic.
She was initially suspended from her job on March 20 before being fired on April 9.
“As mentioned is [sic] the suspension letter dated 20th March 2013, your employment agreement is termination due to your unacceptable and improper behavior [sic] during your last business trip in Dubai, which has resulted in your arrest by the Police Authorities in UAE,” the termination letter signed by Al Mana and obtained by a Norwegian newspaper says.
“The full and final settlement of any outstanding benefits can be discussed wih [sic] Mr. XXXX XXXXXX. At the same time, you are requested to hand in any company property given to you on account of company work.”
The letter says the termination is in line with Qatari law.
In a public statement, Al Mana Interiors claimed it had been forced to terminate her after communication broke down.
“We are sympathetic to Marte Dalelv during this very difficult situation,” the statement says.
“Al Mana Interiors has repeatedly offered Marte support and company representatives were by her side throughout the initial investigation and police interviews, and spent days at both the police station and the prosecutor’s office to help win her release.
“Company representatives have been supportive and in communication with Marte throughout her ordeal. Only when Ms. Dalelv declined to have positive and constructive discussions about her employment status, and ceased communication with her employer, was the company forced to end our relationship with her.
“The decision had nothing to do with the rape allegation, and unfortunately neither Ms. Dalelv nor her attorneys have chosen to contact the company to discuss her employment status.
“We continue to be open to helping Ms. Dalelv and extending her resources during the Dubai legal process. We are hopeful that we can resume a positive discussion about the assistance she needs during this difficult time.”
Meanwhile, 41,000 people have signed a petition to release Dalelv, according to her friends.
The case, which is the latest in a string of similar incidents involving alleged rape victims being jailed, has made headlines around the world and re-drawn attention to the clash between Dubai’s cosmopolitan image and its Islamic-influenced legislation, which is not highly publicised.
The Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide has complained to his UAE counterpart.
"I emphasised that we believe that the conviction is contrary to fundamental human rights, including conventions that the UAE have officially ratified," Eide said.
"Norway will continue to do what we can to support her in what is a very difficult situation. Our cooperation with the UAE is strong and good, but I conveyed to my colleague that we are worried that this difficult case may disturb our good relations if we do not reach a good solution in the near future."