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Judicial CP - May 2006

Corpun file 17681

The Peninsula, Doha, 17 May 2006

Expats to be lashed for drinking

By Staff Reporter

Doha -- A criminal court yesterday sentenced three young Arab expatriates, one of them a woman holding an American passport, to 40 lashes each after they were found guilty of drinking and quarrelling with one another.

There were actually four youngsters rounded up on the above charges and the fourth one, a Qatari national, was acquitted since traces of alcohol were not found in his blood sample.

Information available suggests that the Qatari and the young Arab woman whom he later described as his fiancée, were sitting in a restaurant-cum-bar. Apparently, close to them were seated the other two Arab youngsters.

They were drinking and due to some misunderstanding there was a heated exchange between the two groups. It seems the situation turned violent and the police were called in by the restaurant staff.

Blood samples of the three confirmed traces of alcohol and the case was referred to the court after charge-sheeting by the prosecution. The Qatari who tested negative for drinking, was also named as an accused.

The case was heard by the Upper Criminal Court which gave its verdict yesterday. The young Qatari told the judges that the woman was her fiancée and he had applied to the committee at the Ministry of Interior for its permission to marry her.

The committee is yet to issue a decision, he said and even produced the file number of the case pending with the ministerial panel to substantiate his claim. He said that he was sitting in the restaurant with her fiancée but not drinking at the time the untoward incident occurred.

The court on hearing all the sides to the case decided to sentence three accused to 40 lashes each for drinking, while acquitting the Qatari on that count.

The Qatari later told The Peninsula that although his fiancée was of Arab origin, she was not familiar with the Arab and Qatari culture. She had been brought up and educated in the west, and so could hardly speak Arabic, he said.

"She is barely here for two months and unfamiliar with the local culture…I will go in appeal against the court verdict," said a visibly upset Qatari. The woman's father was present when the court gave its verdict.

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