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Dubai pardons jailed Norwegian rape victim

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Dubai pardons jailed Norwegian rape victim
Marte Deborah Dalelv's (R) family said they were "happy and relieved" at the news of their daughter's pardon. Files: Scanpix
16:27 CEST+02:00
Emirati authorities have pardoned the 24-year-old Norwegian woman who was convicted of extra-marital sex after reporting being raped to the police in Dubai, confirmed Norway's ambassador to the UAE on Monday.

Marte Deborah Dalelv was working for an interior decoration firm in Dubai when the rape occurred. She reported the incident on March 6th to Emirati authorities in Dubai, but they instead confiscated her passport and money and later went on to prosecute her in connection to the assault.

Last week, she was sentenced to 16 months in jail for having sex outside of marriage, for drinking alcohol, and for perjury. The ruling provoked the ire of Norway's foreign minister.

"This verdict flies in the face of our notion of justice," Espen Barth Eide told the NTB news agency. "It appears very odd that a person who reports rape is convicted for crimes that in our part of the world are not considered crimes." 

Dalelv, who has been living at the Norwegian Seamen's Church in Dubai during her trial, immediately filed an appeal against the verdict to avoid being jailed in the Gulf state. On Monday, news emerged that she had been pardoned.

"Marte has been given her passport back and can leave the country. It is not decided when she will travel," Norwegian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Åse Bjerke, told the NTB news agency.

The move was welcomed by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

"I want to thank the UAE prime minister for his decision and I'd like to thank Espen Barth Eidie and the foreign ministry, which has contributed to Dalelv being pardoned," he told TV2 on Monday. 

"There is no doubt that attention from around the world, and the tenaciy of the foreign ministry, in partiucalr Eide personally, led to this decision." 

Dalelv's parents spoke out about their relief once they heard about their daughter's visit to the chief prosecutor's office in the UAE, where she was informed of the Gulf state's decision to pardon her of any crime. 

"It was a surprise. We've lived in suspense and did not assume anything about the meeting," her mother told the Aftenposten newspaper.

The family said they did not know when Dalelv would get on a plane to return home to Norway.

"But we'd very much like to get her home as soon as possible." 

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