x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Beach pair could face longer sentence

Prosecutors have demanded longer sentences for the British man and woman in prison for public indecency on a beach.

DUBAI // Prosecutors have demanded longer sentences for the British man and woman who each received three months in prison for public indecency on a beach, after they appealed the verdict against them. The Public Prosecution Department submitted its own appeal on Sunday, urging the Dubai Appeal Court to increase the sentences imposed on Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors to the maximum penalty, which is a year in jail.

The law grants the judge discretion to increase a sentence if the severity of a crime merits it. Prosecutors will argue that the nature of the crime warrants a longer sentence. Palmer, 36, and Acors, 34, filed their appeal last week. They argue that they did not have illicit relations. "The prosecution's decision to appeal has nothing to do with our decision to appeal," said Hassan Mattar, the lawyer representing Palmer and Acors. "It is every defendant's right to appeal against a ruling, as it is the prosecution's right to appeal a ruling it views as too lenient."

Under federal law, the appeal judge could impose the toughest penalty, which in the case of consensual sexual relations outside wedlock would be a year in jail. Palmer and Acors were convicted of consuming alcohol, having consensual sex out of wedlock and committing a scandalous public act. They were found guilty by the Dubai Misdemeanours Court on Oct 16 and sentenced to three months in jail, followed by deportation. They also were fined Dh1,000 (US$272) each for consuming alcohol.

Their bail was extended last week after their appeal. They have surrendered their passports. Palmer and Acors are due to appear before the Dubai Appeal Court on Nov 18 to present their case. hbathish@thenational.ae