Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Dubai adultery woman loses appeal

Marnie Pearce and son
Ms Pearce fears she will lose custody of her two young sons

A British mother jailed for adultery in Dubai has lost a second appeal and will stay in prison.

Marnie Pearce, 40, hoped to be freed but will have to serve the rest of a three-month term. It had been reduced from six months at her first appeal.

She will be deported on her release and fears she will lose custody of her two young children.

Ms Pearce says her ex-husband accused her of adultery to gain custody of their two children, a claim he denies.

'Fair hearing'

In a posting on her campaign website, her supporters said: "It is with great sadness that Team Marnie have to announce that the verdict will remain the same and Marnie will have to serve her time and, for now, be deported.

"We will continue to apply pressure to have the deportation order lifted, and thank everyone for their continued support."

Ms Pearce, who is originally from Bracknell, Berkshire, denies the adultery claims made by her ex-husband, Egyptian national Ihab El-Labban.

The sex lives of consenting adults shouldn't be a criminal matter in the first place
Tim Hancock, Amnesty International

They had two children together, aged four and seven.

She first met her former husband in Oman and married him in the Seychelles in September 1999.

They moved to Dubai but the relationship eventually broke down.

In March last year she was arrested and accused of committing adultery with a British man, who she insists was only a friend, and convicted in November.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said: "Marnie Pearce should not be in prison.

"The sex lives of consenting adults shouldn't be a criminal matter in the first place. Marnie should be immediately and unconditionally released.

"The custody hearing has now been delayed but there's still a danger that the rights of her two young sons will be ignored.

"The decision on their custody must be based on the children's best interests. Their future should not be decided on the basis of this adultery conviction.

"What we need to see now is a fair custody hearing which has at its centre the rights of these two boys."

But Prisoners Abroad, a UK-based charity which supports Britons who are in prison overseas, said people needed to be aware they could find themselves jailed abroad for actions which were not illegal at home.

Chief executive Pauline Crowe said: "Acts which are not illegal in the UK, such as the alleged adultery in this case, are prohibited in certain countries, and if you are prosecuted locally you could find yourself in prison a long way from family and support networks."

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