Singaporeans held in Abu Dhabi

Sentence reduced; pair to be fined and deported

Two Singaporeans who were each sentenced to a year's jail in Abu Dhabi for wearing women's clothes had their punishments reduced on Sunday by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department to a Dh10,000 (S$3, 690) fine and deportation for both.

Fashion photographer Muhammad Fadli Abdul Rahman, 26, and Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim, 37, were arrested three weeks ago in a shopping centre after arriving in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Aug 8.

They were accused of "wearing women's clothes in public and behaving indecently", according to court documents.

Nur is a transgender woman but has yet to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

Cross-dressing, homosexuality and being transgender are crimes in the UAE.

Fadli's family said they found out about his arrest from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). His brother said neither Singaporean had a lawyer in the Abu Dhabi court.

The Straits Times understands that MFA officers were at the court to attend the hearing, but the judge had decided to pass sentence without a hearing and without the detainees' presence. This is permissible under the UAE legal system.

Fadli's family did not respond to messages yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Sentence reduced; pair to be fined and deported'. Print Edition | Subscribe