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Doha, Qatar – A Dutch woman who alleged she was raped after being drugged in an upmarket nightclub in Doha was convicted of having sex out of wedlock by a Qatari court on Monday and given a one-year suspended sentence.
The woman, 22, was ordered to be deported to the Netherlands once the ruling was formalised, which is expected over the coming days, the ambassador to the Netherlands Yvette Burghgraef- van Eechoud told Al Jazeera at the courthouse.
The accused man in the case, identified as Omar Abdullah al-Hasan, was also convicted of having sex outside of marriage – a serious offence in this conservative Gulf state.
A court official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said that the man was from Syria.
Hasan will receive 100 lashes for illicit sex acts and another 40 lashes as punishment for public drunkenness, and will be deported.
Hasan and the Dutch citizen, identified as “Laura”, were not present as the judge read out the verdicts.
The court official described the one-year suspended sentence as “lenient”.
“Had she been a Muslim woman, she would have received at least five years in jail. No one can get out of such charges here in Qatar,” he said.
Van Eechoud said the woman had asked her to convey the message to the media and the public to respect her privacy at this time.
“We will do everything we can to get her out of the country as soon as possible. Under the circumstances, Laura is doing fine,” she said.
Laura said she was drugged during a party in March at the Crystal Lounge nightclub at the W Doha Hotel, and woke up in an unfamiliar apartment when she realised she had been sexually assaulted.
She had been on holiday at the time, and reported the incident to Qatari police. She was arrested on March 14, and has been held ever since on charges of committing illicit sex acts.
Hasan has acknowledged having sex with the woman but said it had been consensual, according to Dutch media reports.
The Dutch embassy told Al Jazeera that officials have been in close contact with Laura and her family in the Netherlands of the past few months.
“I’m shaking in my legs. I can’t believe it,” the woman’s mother, Marian, told the Dutch news programme EenVandaag after learning she would be deported. “She has been sentenced. I don’t know for what but I don’t care. This is the best I could have wished for.”
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