Couple deny kissing on Abu Dhabi Corniche

Couple jailed for kissing on the Corniche claim there were too many people around for them to have done so.

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ABU DHABI // A man jailed and sentenced to 80 lashes for drunkenly kissing his girlfriend on the Corniche told the Appeals Court yesterday the pair had only “a shallow relationship, through BlackBerry Messenger”.

H, from Syria, and his girlfriend M, from Morocco, claim the security guard who reported them did so out of malice, and that there were too many people around for them to have kissed each other.

“The guard held a grudge because I had a fight with him earlier,” said the girlfriend.

“You beat up the guard?” asked the judge, Dr Khairi Al Kabbash. The woman replied that it was a verbal fight. Her lawyer, Ali Al Abbadi, argued the guard’s tale was not credible as, “it was in broad daylight and they were surrounded by so many people”.

The girlfriend added that there was a group of five people with them at the time.

“We called them to testify but they did not attend,” she said.

The judge then asked the man how he knew his girlfriend.

“We have a shallow relationship, through BlackBerry Messenger,” he replied.

The judge then reminded him that the pair were also accused of “beautifying the sin” by sending romantic text messages to one another, despite not being engaged. But the man insisted the messages did not contain anything indecent.

Both were previously sentenced to jail followed by deportation for the public display of affection, while the man was sentenced to a further 80 lashes for being drunk in public.

The judge explained that the case was sent back to the Appeals Court by the Court of Cassation because the man denied the alcohol charge and yet he was issued the Sharia penalty of 80 lashes.

Sharia penalties can only be applied when a defendant confesses more than once, or if there were four witnesses to the crime.

If the defendant denies a charge, but is convicted by the evidence, he is issued with the civil penalty.

A verdict is due on January 16.