Qatar convicts Dutch tourist who says she was raped

2016-06-13 22:33
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Doha - Qatar is to deport a Dutch woman who was convicted of adultery on Monday and given a one-year suspended sentence after she reported being raped while on holiday in Doha.

The 22-year-old, known only as Laura and who was not in court, was also fined 3 000 Qatari riyals (€710) and will be deported once she pays the fine, court officials said.

She had denied the charge against her.

The male defendant, said by a court official to be Syrian and named as Omar Abdullah al-Hasan, was sentenced to 100 lashes for having illicit sex and 40 lashes for drinking alcohol.

Hasan, who was also not present in court, will undergo a medical examination to see if he is fit enough to withstand his punishment.

He will not serve any time in jail, but will also be deported from the Gulf state once he has been punished.

Dutch ambassador to Qatar Yvette Burghgraef-van Eechoud, who was present in the packed courtroom, told reporters that the embassy would help Laura to leave Qatar.

"We will do everything to get her out of the country as soon as possible to where she wants to go," Eechoud said.

The envoy added that she expected Laura to leave Qatar within the next few days.

The ambassador added that she had spoken to Laura on Sunday and said that "under the circumstances she was doing fine".

'So happy'

In the Netherlands, Laura's mother said she had not yet spoken to her daughter but was "so happy" at the news of her release.

"I do not know yet when she gets home, but this is not most important," she told the Dutch television NOS website.

"The most important is that she gets home... I am so happy," she said.

Laura was arrested on March 14 and has since been held in custody.

Her lawyer previously said that the incident happened after she had visited a Doha hotel.

"She went dancing, but when she returned to the table after the first sip of her drink, she realised that" she had been drugged, Brian Lokollo has said.

"She really didn't feel very well," he added.

The young woman remembers nothing more until the following morning when she woke up in a totally unfamiliar apartment "and realised to her great horror, that she had been raped", Lokollo said.

The male defendant had insisted that their night together had been consensual and that the woman had even asked for money.

Adultery, or illicit sex, is treated as a serious crime in the conservative emirate.

But the case provoked an international outcry with many people appalled by the treatment of an alleged rape victim and an online campaign using the #freelaura hashtag to try to draw attention to the Dutch woman's imprisonment.

Nicholas McGeehan, Gulf researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the case demonstrated that "proper procedures and investigation are needed to avoid such cases in the future".

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