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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Abu Dhabi court has sentenced a woman to life in prison for smuggling a large amount of the sedative valium

Abu Dhabi court has sentenced a woman to life in prison for smuggling a large amount of the sedative valium, in the first such ruling against a woman in the emirate, the local press said Tuesday.

The seven-month pregnant Palestinian was arrested in Abu Dhabi while trying to sell part of the shipment, which was valued at 300,000 dirhams (81,677 dollars), to an undercover police officer, The National daily reported.

At an earlier hearing on Sunday, prosecutors had called for her to face the death penalty.

The woman is expected to give birth in prison, a fact which under United Arab Emirates law must be withheld from the child's birth certificate, the paper said.

In the first hearing on March 28, the woman who was identified only by her initials, F.A., said that her Jordanian employer had asked her to deliver the package without her knowing its contents.

Her defence lawyer said that she was the victim of the actions of her employer, who was identified only as S.A. The lawyer also charged that she had been arrested without a proper warrant.

Her employer was tried in absentia and was also sentenced to life in prison.

It is the first time that a woman has been sentenced to life in prison in the oil-rich Gulf emirate.

Valium is legal in the UAE, but can only be bought as a prescribed medication and is distributed by pharmacies under strict guidelines. It is commonly used to treat anxiety and muscle pain.

Under UAE law, drug traffickers can receive the death penalty. Several foreigners have been sentenced to death for drug trafficking in recent years, but death sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment.

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