Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Rape row woman is freed from jail

Marte Dalelv was charged with a sex crime after reporting being raped in Dubai (AP)

A European woman who was jailed for having sex outside marriage after she complained to police in Dubai that she had been raped has been pardoned and is free to leave.

Norweigian Marte Deborah Dalelv's sentencing to 16 months last week caused outrage in the West.

She said she was given back her passport by the public prosecutor's office and that her sentence had been dropped.

The 42-year-old claimed she was raped in March by a co-worker, but she was charged with the sex offence after going to police in Dubai in a case that highlighted the clash between the city's Western-friendly atmosphere and its Islamic-based legal codes.

Her decision to go public about the sentence in a series of interviews appeared to put pressure on authorities in Dubai and tarnish the city's reputation as a cosmopolitan hub, including possible fallout on its high-profile bid for the 2020 World Expo.

"I have my passport back. I am pardoned," said Ms Dalelv, who worked for an interior design firm in Qatar and was in Dubai for a business meeting when the alleged rape took place.

It was unclear whether authorities would keep the 13-month sentence against her alleged attacker, identified as a 33-year-old Sudanese man who was charged with consuming alcohol and sex outside marriage. While drink is widely available in Dubai hotels and restaurants, public intoxication can bring serious charges.

"I have my life back," said Ms Dalelv. "This is a great day."

In Norway, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide posted a Twitter message: "Marte is released! Thanks to everyone who signed up to help."

Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter: "Happy that Marte has been pardoned and that she is a free woman again."

Ms Dalelv said she planned to leave the UAE soon, but "first I have to thank some very special people," including local groups that supported her.

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