Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Dubai prison mother loses custody

Marnie Pearce and son
Marnie Pearce is due to be released from prison in April

A British mother jailed for adultery in Dubai has lost custody of her two young children, aged four and seven.

Marnie Pearce, 40, who is originally from Bracknell, Berkshire, faces deportation after completing her three-month sentence in April.

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

Her friend Sandy Norman, who is in Dubai, said the outcome of Tuesday's hearing was disappointing but expected.

Ms Norman told the BBC the boys had been placed with their father, Egyptian national Ihab El-Labban, and may not see their mother for many years.

I cannot even begin to put into words the feelings of desperation, loss, fear and numbness that I feel
Statement from Marnie Pearce

She said Ms Pearce felt "very unjustly treated".

Ms Norman said: "Marnie could be waiting until they're 18 years old when they can go and find their mother.

"As she was found guilty of adultery it makes her an unfit mother and that was the basis for Ihab's case, adultery in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a criminal offence for a woman.

"To my knowledge no woman has won custody of her children in Dubai.

"It will be down to Marnie now to seek whatever custody rights from the UK when she returns."

'Horrendous worries'

In a statement posted on campaign website Save Marnie's Babies, Ms Pearce said: "I have been the best mother that I could possibly have been.

"I may not be perfect but I have given them everything that God says you should give to your babies.

"They are my life and I would die for them. I really have battled and fought so hard and only God knows what lays ahead.

"I cannot even begin to put into words the feelings of desperation, loss, fear and numbness that I feel.

"It really is like something has been driven through my chest. I have the most horrendous worries that only a mum could ever have."

Ms Pearce denies the adultery claims made by her ex-husband and has twice appealed against her conviction.

Her prison term was reduced from six months at her first appeal. She is expected to be freed at the end of April, Ms Norman said.

She first met Mr El-Labban 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.

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Dubai adultery woman loses appeal
16 Mar 09 |  Berkshire

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