Dutch woman raped in Qatar fined, freed after adultery conviction

Detained tourist must pay $800, handed 1-year suspended sentence, after reporting sexual assault while vacationing in Gulf state; attacker gets 140 lashes

File: The Doha skyline, in Qatar (photo credit: Shutterstock images)
File: The Doha skyline, in Qatar (photo credit: Shutterstock images)

A Doha court on Monday convicted a Dutch woman of adultery and handed her a one-year suspended sentence after she reported being raped while on holiday in Qatar earlier this year.

The woman, who is known only as Laura and who was not in court, was also fined 3,000 Qatari riyals ($800/€710) and will be deported once she pays the fine, court officials said.

She had been released and was in the care of the Dutch embassy, a spokesperson said.

The male defendant, said by a court official to be Syrian and named as Omar Abdullah al-Hasan, was sentenced to 100 lashes for the illicit sex and 40 lashes for consuming alcohol.

Hasan, who was also not in court, will undergo a medical examination to see if he is fit enough to withstand his punishment.

He will not serve any time in jail but will also be deported once he has been punished.

The Dutch ambassador to Qatar Yvette Burghgraef-van Eechoud, who was present in a packed courtroom, told reporters the embassy would help Laura leave Qatar.

“We will do everything to get her out of the country as soon as possible to where she wants to go,” said Eechoud.

The envoy added that she expected Laura to leave Qatar, which will host the football World Cup in 2022, within the next few days.

The ambassador added that she had spoken to Laura yesterday and said that “under the circumstances she was doing fine”.

Back in the Netherlands, Laura’s mother said she had not yet spoken to her daughter but was “so happy” at the news of her release.

“I do not know yet when she gets home, but this is not most important,” she told the Dutch television NOS website.

“The most important is that she gets home… I am so happy,” she said.

The 22-year-old tourist was arrested in March on suspicion of adultery after reporting the sexual assault to local police, her lawyers said.

The woman says she was drugged in her Doha hotel, and realized she had been raped when she woke up in an unfamiliar apartment the next day.

“She went dancing but when she returned to the table after the first sip of her drink, she realized that someone had added something to her glass,” Brian Lokollo said, adding that afterwards “she felt very unwell.”

He said Laura’s memory of the evening was hazy. She woke up alone the following day in a strange apartment, her clothes torn “and realized, to her great horror, that she had been raped.”

She immediately went to a police station intending to file a complaint against her attacker but authorities refused to let her leave.

“She was arrested in March on suspicion of adultery, which means having sex outside marriage, which is outlawed in Qatar,” Lokollo said.

“She has nightmares, and is anxious and traumatized,” he added. “Depending on the day, she is very afraid, or very angry, or she hopes that a solution can be found.”

A Dutch foreign ministry official confirmed the arrest and sentencing.

Dutch Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Daphne Kerremans told the AP she had also been released after the sentencing. The Dutch Embassy in Doha declined to comment further.

The suspected rapist insists that their night together had been consensual and that the woman had even asked for money.

“She completely denies these accusations,” Lokollo said. “She and her mother have also been pressured to have her marry her attacker,” he added.

In 2013, a 24-year-old Norwegian woman who brought a rape complaint against her boss was jailed for 16 months in the neighboring United Arab Emirates for so-called indecent behavior, perjury and alcohol consumption. She was later pardoned by the authorities.

AP contributed to this report

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