Dutch woman convicted in Qatar after reporting rape to police

Tourist sentenced for having sex outside marriage after being drugged and raped

Doha  criminal court: the Dutch woman got a suspended sentence and €750 fine. Photograph: EPA

Doha criminal court: the Dutch woman got a suspended sentence and €750 fine. Photograph: EPA

 

A 22-year-old Dutch holidaymaker has been convicted by a court in Qatar of having sex outside marriage after she reported to police that she’d been drugged and raped.

The woman, who has been named only as “Laura” from Utrecht, was given a one-year jail sentence suspended on condition that she doesn’t offend again during the next three years. She was also fined 3,000 Qatari riyals or about €750.

The court in the capital, Doha, also ordered on Monday that the woman be deported back to the Netherlands once her fine was paid.

Laura’s mother said she was delighted. “She’s been convicted but she’s coming home. That’s the most important thing now. I’m so relieved.”

Laura had been held since she first went to the police on March 14th, but her case only came to light at the weekend when her family decided to go public – alleging that nobody from the embassy had been to visit her for three weeks after she was detained.

Dutch reluctance

As a result, foreign minister Bert Koenders has been under pressure from MPs to make a statement explaining his department’s apparent reluctance to get involved.

The assault allegedly took place after Laura went for an evening out at the Crystal Lounge in the Doha Hotel.

She said the next morning she woke up in a strange apartment and realised she’d been drugged first and later raped. She said she’d had flashbacks of leaving the hotel in a taxi with “an Arab man”.

That man turned out to be a Syrian national named Omar Abdullah al-Hassan, who afterwards claimed that the sex had been consensual but that there had been an argument following which Laura had gone to the authorities and falsely claimed she’d been raped.

Critics say the Dutch case raises questions about how Qatar will deal with the thousands of tourists planning to attend the 2022 World Cup.