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Daily Archives: October 8, 2008

Verdict in Dubai ‘sex on the beach’ trial due Oct 16

A Dubai court will deliver its verdict on two Britons accused of having sex on a beach in the booming Gulf emirate on October 16, legal sources said yesterday.
A hearing in the trial of Michelle Palmer, 37, and Vince Acors, 34, did not take place as scheduled yesterday, and sources at the Dubai court and the public prosecution said the case has been adjourned pending the verdict.
It was not clear why the hearing was called off. The pair's defence lawyer was not immediately reachable for comment.
The trial has received extensive coverage in the British media, but the case is seen as embarrassing in the Gulf emirate, which despite hosting hundreds of thousands of Western residents and tourists adheres to Islamic rules banning sex outside marriage.
Palmer, a publishing executive who has been sacked from her job, and Acors, a visitor to Dubai, were accused of having sex in a public place in the early hours of July 5 after drinking heavily.
The pair, both of whom are free on bail but barred from leaving the oil-rich United Arab Emirates could be jailed and fined if found guilty. A prison sentence would be followed by deportation.
Palmer failed to show up at the last hearing on September 9, when a defence lawyer gave the court a medical report saying she was "under treatment for depression and anxiety" and not well enough to appear.
The police officer who arrested the couple also failed to show up at the last hearing, reportedly because he had not received the summons by then.
At the opening of the trial on August 12, Palmer denied having sexual intercourse with Acors, saying they were simply "kissing and hugging."
Acors pleaded not guilty to having sex, but a prosecution official was quoted as saying that he initially admitted the offence before changing his story.
Defence lawyer Hassan Matar said last month that the results of a medical test on Palmer just hours after the incident showed "she had not engaged in recent sexual intercourse," while the medical report for Acors was inconclusive.
The case has turned the spotlight on the lifestyle of British residents of the UAE, who number over 120,000, of whom around 100,000 live in Dubai.
Dubai, a bustling tourist hub, is hugely popular with Britons. Around one million British nationals visited the UAE in 2007.
Nearly 85 percent of the UAE's population, estimated at over 5.6 million at the end of 2006, are foreigners, but the native Muslim population remains generally conservative.

Turkish jets bomb Kurdish rebels in Iraq, Turkey

Turkish warplanes yesterday bombed more than 20 Kurdish rebel targets inside Turkey and across the border in northern Iraq, intensifying an onslaught triggered by a deadly militant attack last week.
The jets struck 21 targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the Avashin-Basyan region in northern Iraq as well as the Buzul and Iki Yaka mountains near the border in Turkey's southeast, the Turkish army said in a statement.
"The planes returned safely to base after successfully completing their mission," the statement said, without further details.
The raid was the fourth strike against PKK hideouts inside Iraq since the militants killed 17 soldiers in an attack Friday on a military outpost close to the border, in the bloodiest fighting this year.
The Turkish army has said most of its casualties were caused by heavy weapons' fire from northern Iraq as the rebels attempted to take out soldiers stationed on rugged mountains around the outpost in the province of Hakkari .
Twenty-three militants were killed in the ensuing clash that lasted late into Friday night, but the army said it believes the rebels suffered more losses in artillery fire and air stikes following the clash.
The PKK, on the other hand, claimed that it had killed 62 soldiers and wounded more than 30 while losing only nine rebels.
The casualty numbers are difficult to independently confirm.
The attack sparked anger in Turkey which charges that thousands of PKK rebels enjoy a safe haven in the autonomous Kurdish-run north of Iraq and use the region as a springboard for attacks on Turkish targets across the border.
On Sunday, the deputy chief of the Turkish army accused Iraqi Kurds of aiding the rebels and said Ankara expected them to take concrete action.
"We have no support at all from the northern Iraqi administration (against the rebels). Let aside any support, they are providing (the rebels with) infrastructural capabilities such as hospitals and roads," General Hasan Igsiz told reporters.
Yesterday's raid came a day before parliament was expected to vote on extending by one-year the government's mandate for cross-border military strikes in northern Iraq.
Under a one-year parliamentary authorisation obtained last October, the army has carried out several air strikes and a week-long ground incursion against PKK rebel targets, using intelligence passed on by Turkey's close ally, the United States.
Although the army has described the strikes as successful, it has also called for economic and social measures in Turkey's impoverished Kurdish-majority southeast to erode popular support for the group.
Turkey's civilian and military leaders are expected to meet tomorrow to discuss fresh measures to curb the militants.
The PKK — considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union — took up arms for self-rule in southeast Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 44,000 lives.