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UK kissing couple loses Dubai jail appeal

One-month prison sentence upheld for kissing in public

Dubai's appeals court upheld Sunday a one-month prison sentence against a British couple for kissing in public in the Muslim emirate, their lawyer said.

"The court has upheld the verdict" of the court of first instance, the lawyer, Khalaf al-Hosani, told AFP.

The two, named by the British press as Ayman Najafi, 24, a British expat, and tourist Charlotte Lewis, 25, were arrested in November, after an Emirati woman accused them of kissing in a restaurant in the trendy Jumeirah Beach Residence neighborhood.

They were also accused of consuming alcohol, a charge to which they pleaded guilty, but said they only kissed on the cheek.

They were convicted in January and sentenced to one month in prison, but have been on bail since their arrest, with their passports held by the authorities, Hosani said.

The lawyer said he would discuss with the defendants whether they wish to challenge the sentence in the cassation court, which can review the case.

But Hosani said that "the hope is dim" to overturn the verdict.

Last month the lawyer told court that the only witness, a 38-year-old Emirati woman, had presented different statements.

"She told the police that she saw them kissing, while she told the prosecution that her children saw them," he said, adding the defense is arguing that the couple only kissed on the cheek "as a greeting" which is allowed.

Dubai is a popular destination for British tourists. Around 1.1 million British nationals visited the United Arab Emirates in 2009, but the city state still adheres to certain strict Islamic rules, and bans sex outside marriage.

She told the police that she saw them kissing, while she told the prosecution that her children saw them

Khalaf al-Hosani