Prosecutors confirm hotel rape inquiry continues

Doubts raised in Britain over case involving Muslim woman and her fiance arrested for illegal sex and drinking after they reported alleged rape.

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DUBAI // Prosecutors yesterday confirmed that a suspect in an alleged New Year's Eve rape at a Dubai Marina hotel is being investigated, after doubts were raised abroad as to whether the case was proceeding. The defendant, who has not been identified, is accused of raping a 23-year-old British holidaymaker, SP, in a toilet at The Address hotel.

Described as being in his 20s, he has been charged with sexual assault, CID sources said. If convicted, he faces a minimum of three years in prison and a maximum of 15 years. He is being held at the Dubai Ports police station and was referred to the public prosecutor on Sunday. The alleged victim, of Pakistani descent, is also being investigated for allegedly having consensual sex with her fiance, SC, a 44-year-old Briton of Indian descent, as well as for illegal alcohol consumption.

If charged by prosecutors, both will be referred to the Dubai Misdemeanours Court and face fines of up to Dh5,000 (US$1,360) for the consumption charge and a minimum of one year in jail for having consensual sex outside marriage. International media reports had suggested that the investigation of the rape case may have stalled because of a lack of evidence. Brig Gen Khamis al Mezaina, the deputy commander of the Dubai Police, told Reuters this week that the police "didn't find any proof that anything happened in the bathroom".

The UK newspaper The Sun reported that authorities did not examine the woman for evidence of rape until a British embassy official intervened. Four witnesses are being called to testify in the assault case, including the victim's fiance. The rape and the consensual sex cases are being investigated separately. SP was in the emirate to celebrate her engagement. A CID officer said she had been in the country for one day.

The woman reported the attack to the Jebel Ali police station on New Year's Day, saying she was attacked by a waiter while semi-conscious in a hotel toilet. She was then arrested after admitting to illegal drinking and having had sexual intercourse outside marriage. Her fiance was charged with the same offences. Officers at the police station said that incriminating evidence regarding consensual sex was obtained after SP was tested for rape. The couple, both from London, have been released on bail, but their passports have been confiscated.

SP, who is Muslim, admitted to having had too much to drink as she and her fiance celebrated their engagement at the hotel. The suspect is alleged to have followed her into the toilets and raped her while she was semi-conscious. Her fiance was reported to have later helped her back to the hotel room while being unaware of the attack. When SP told him what happened the following morning, they contacted the police.

A blood test to prove she had been drinking was conducted. The suspect maintains the intercourse was consensual.