Australian woman wins right to sue over UAE rape case

Alicia Gali wins leave to sue her own government for failing to warn her she risked jail by reporting assault
Australian woman wins right to sue over UAE rape case
Alicia Gali won the right to take Australian diplomats to court for failing to give her adequate advice
By Joanne Bladd
Tue 07 Jun 2011 06:05 PM

An Australian woman jailed for adultery in the UAE after reporting she had been raped has won the right to sue her own government for failing to warn her it could lead to imprisonment.

Alicia Gali on Tuesday won the right to take Australian diplomats to court over the case in Queensland's Supreme Court, arguing they failed to give her proper advice, newswire AAP reported.

Alicia Gali, a former beauty salon manager at the luxury Le Méridien Al Aqah in Fujairah, claimed she was drugged and raped by three co-workers in June 2008.

The 29-year-old was jailed for eight months on charges of adultery after reporting the assault to UAE authorities – a consequence she claims an Australian consulate official in Dubai should have warned her about.

“Alicia was merely told that she should reconsider her need to be in the country at that time, but the embassy was fully aware that Alicia's employer was illegally holding her passport,” Gali's lawyer Michelle James told reporters.

“They didn't assist her to have the passport returned. They didn't advise her to seek local legal representation. The embassy's deficient advice led to Ms Gali spending a hellish eight months in prison.”

Ms Gali has already won leave to pursue legal action against international group Starwood Hotels, manager of Le Méridien Al Aqah, for allegedly failing in its workplace duty of care.  

In a previous statement, her lawyer said the hotel had failed to provide segregated, secure quarters for female employees or adequate training on local laws and customs.

The case is likely to proceed in Australia.

In a previous statement, a spokesperson for Le Méridien Al Aqah said the hotel was aware of the incident and that staff safety was “a paramount priority”.

“The local authorities applied local laws and determined that it was appropriate to incarcerate Ms. Gali and the other individuals involved in this matter,” the spokesperson said, adding the hotel had supported Gali throughout the incident.

“Including assisting with medical support, arranging for financial support, assistance with the investigation, liaising with her representative embassy and arranging for her family to come to the UAE from Australia.”

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