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Australian woman wins bid to sue her government over UAE jailing

Woman who was jailed for adultery over alleged Fujairah hotel rape has been granted leave to sue her own government for failing to provide advice on UAE laws.

DUBAI // An Australian woman who was jailed for adultery has been given leave to sue her own government for failing to provide advice over laws on reporting rape in the UAE.

Alicia Gali, 29, from Brisbane, was jailed for eight months after going to authorities with allegations that she had been drugged and raped by three co-workers at the Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah, where she had been employed as a beauty salon manager.

She has already been given leave by Brisbane Supreme Court to sue the resort for failing to protect her from the attack, which occurred in June 2008.

Now, Ms Gali has been given leave to sue the Commonwealth of Australia, on the grounds that consular staff in Dubai failed to warn her that reporting a rape claim against a married man could lead to prosecution for adultery.

“This girl had been drugged, physically assaulted and raped by three men,” said Michelle James, a principal from Ms Gali’s legal firm Maurice Blackburn.

“In a distressed state she called the Australian government to help and that help simply wasn’t provided to her.

“She could have been advised to seek local legal advice. She certainly wasn’t told that she could be told that she could be sent to prison for reporting rape in the United Arab Emirates, and that’s the premise of our case.”

The application to launch legal action against the Australian government was filed at Brisbane Supreme Court last week and a hearing was scheduled this morning over whether leave should be granted to proceed with legal action.

However, Ms James said that the government consented to the case and proceedings were filed in the same court this morning.
She said it was still “early days” to say whether the government would contest the case.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade this morning appeared to shift blame away from overseas diplomatic staff.

“Australian consular officials overseas are not permitted to provide legal advice or intervene in foreign legal processes,” the spokesperson said.

Maurice Blackburn is still pursuing a separate legal case against Ms Gali’s former employer Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort.

The resort operator Starwood Hotels has previously denied that there had been any neglect and that it had supported Ms Gali throughout her eight month jail term.

Ms James said that the case was still in a pre-court stage and they had yet to receive any communication from Starwood Hotels on the matter.

mcroucher@thenational.ae

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