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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
Drug charge Britons to appeal
Dubai skyline
Drug charges are taken extremely seriously in the UAE
Lawyers for two British women, sentenced to life imprisonment for drug trafficking in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), say they will appeal.

Anne Kidd, 32, from Leeds, and Anna Bartlett, 22, from Southend, were sentenced by the Sharia court in the northern emirate of Ras al Khaimah on Sunday.

A third Briton, Daniel Maalouf, 28, from London, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, while Abdul Hamid Dandashi, a 25-year-old Lebanese man was given a four-year jail term for drug use.

Anna Bartlett
Anna Bartlett: Sentenced to life imprisonment
Kidd's lawyer, Dr Ibrahim Al-Mulla, told the BBC the judgment came as a shock.

"I really did not expect that... we are going to appeal because I know my client did not deserve that verdict," he said.

Another lawyer acting for both women, Mohammed al-Kamali, also said he would appeal against the sentences.

Possible reductions

But he stressed that Islamic law can be humanitarian and, while life sentences mean 25 years in jail, the women could get considerable reductions for good behaviour.

After the verdicts, lawyers for Kidd and Bartlett said the pair were "relieved" to have escaped the death penalty, which may be given to drug traffickers under a 1995 Islamic law.

The defendants were arrested in November and charged with a variety of drug-related counts ranging from trafficking, dealing, possession and use.

Kidd was convicted of "using and distributing drugs" and Bartlett of "using, trafficking and importing drugs" into the Emirates.

Both were also ordered to pay 50,000 dirhams (10,000).

Maalouf was convicted of "intent to traffic" in drugs.

Fresh trials

All three must now face additional drug-related charges at a trial in Dubai, with a date yet to be set.

No verdict was recorded in the cases of two other Britons, but they could also face a fresh trial in Dubai.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman confirmed that Stacy Simpson, 25, from Leeds and Katherine Jenkins, 29, an Emirates Airlines flight attendant from Cimla, Neath, South Wales, would be transferred to Dubai where they face further unspecified charges.

The Foreign Office would not comment on individual cases, but a spokesman said: "All five of the Britons have the right of appeal.

"Whether they will exercise that right is a matter for them and their lawyers.

"We cannot interfere in the judicial process."

Drugs easily available

The BBC's Frank Gardner says despite the strict penalties for those who are caught, drug use is common among the expatriate community in the UAE.

"Dubai is a sort of Ibiza in the Gulf. People live a holiday lifestyle here.

"There is a big nightclub scene, DJs come out from the UK and ecstasy is available to those in the know," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"A lot of locals dabble in harder drugs which come from Iran.

"You have got a lot of money chasing recreation and Dubai and the Emirates are right next to a big drug-producing area."

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See also:

20 May 01 | Middle East
Life for drug charge Britons
17 Apr 01 | Middle East
Judges study drugs charges in secret
13 Mar 01 | Middle East
Drug charge Britons face death penalty
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