x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Mother jailed for adultery makes final freedom bid

A British woman imprisoned for adultery appeals to Dubai's highest court to overturn her conviction.

A British woman imprisoned for adultery has appealed to Dubai's highest court to overturn her conviction. Marnie Pearce, 40, asked the Court of Cassation on Monday to re-examine the evidence in her case. She says her former husband, Ihab el Labban, falsely accused her of cheating on him. She fears that if her three-month sentence stands, she could lose custody of her sons, aged seven and four.

The human rights charity Amnesty International is backing Pearce and says the best interests of the boys must be the primary consideration. The group has urged that an advocate be appointed to give the children a chance to express themselves without the influence of either side. Tim Hancock, the charity's UK campaigns director, said: "The rights of these two young children are in serious danger of being forgotten in the dispute between their parents."

Mr el Labban and his wife separated in Dec 2007. He filed for custody of the children a year ago then accused her of adultery. Pearce went into hiding with the children after an appeal court upheld her conviction in January. Her sentence, originally six months in prison, was halved. A fortnight ago she surrendered after handing over the boys to Mr el Labban. She has since been in Al Aweer Central Jail in Dubai.

tyaqoob@thenational.ae