Trial date for beach accused

Two Britons arrested for allegedly having intercourse on a public beach will go on trial on Aug 21 a source said.

Dubai - Burj al Arab- The Burj al Arab hotel is seen from a public beach in Dubai July 4, 2008.  (Andre Forget / The National)
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DUBAI // Two Britons arrested for allegedly having intercourse on a public beach will go on trial on Aug 21 in the Dubai Misdemeanours Court, a source close to the case said. Michelle Palmer and Vincent Acors, who were arrested on Jumeirah public beach just after midnight on July 5, have been charged with illicit relations, public indecency and being intoxicated in public.

Ms Palmer, 36, and Mr Acors, 34, have denied the charges of illicit relations and public indecency but have admitted to being drunk in public, according to the source. The case has attracted international attention, especially in the UK. It will be heard by Judge Rabih Ahmad Mohammed Libna. Under Dubai court procedures the hearing is likely to be a preliminary session at which the charges are read and the court asks the prosecution and defence if they have any requests.

"On August 21, the presiding judge is likely to ask the defendants if they would like the hearing to be held in public or behind closed doors," the source said. "The defence lawyer can also request the judge to expedite the hearing of the case." Judge Libna will decide whether to hear evidence in public or whether its sensitivity requires that it should be heard in camera. The prosecution and defence may also tell the judge at the hearing whether they intend to call witnesses. If so, he will tell them the date of hearings at which to present them.

Prosecutor Faisal Ahli said last month that the Britons allegedly committed the acts in full view of passers-by and attracted a "big crowd". Mr Ahli named Mr Acors as the primary defendant and said Ms Palmer "allowed the primary defendant to have carnal relations with her as a man would with his wife". He alleged that the defendants were under the influence of alcohol. If convicted, the Britons face sentences of three to six months' jail followed by deportation.