An unmarried couple who posted intimate photos of themselves on social media have been jailed for a year, overturning an Appeal Court ruling which cancelled the jail term and only fined the defendants.
The Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi upheld an earlier ruling by a lower court that found the Arab man and woman guilty of having relations out of wedlock and violating online laws.
Official court documents stated that the duo were prosecuted by authorities after investigations found that were alone in a private place, despite not being married or related to each other, an act that goes against the Sharia law.
Officials said the man later shared a photo of him and the woman, with friends on Instagram and WhatsApp.
The prosecutors had charged them with “beautifying the sin” of by being together in a private place, despite being unrelated. The man was also charged with violating information technology laws.
The Abu Dhabi Federal Court of First Instance had sentenced the pair to a year in jail each after they were found guilty. The man was also fined Dh250,000.
The sentence was, however reduced, to one month in jail by the Appeal Court, which also ordered their deportation. The defendants then challenged the verdict to the Appeal Court, which cancelled the jail sentences and instead fined each of them Dh10,000.
But the prosecutors appealed to UAE’s top court, arguing that the sentence was not in accordance with the UAE’s penal code.
The Supreme Court then decided to cancel the Court of Appeals’ sentence and maintained the first court’s original ruling.
The offence falls under the UAE Penal Law, Section 5, Article 312, Paragraph 3, under the title, “Crimes that affect religious beliefs and practices”. Under Sharia law, it is illegal for a man and woman who are unrelated or unwed to be alone together.