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Dubai court jails U.S. music producer in drugs case

Written by: Staff
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DUBAI, July 4 (Reuters) A United Arab Emirates court sentenced U.S. music producer Dallas Austin today to four years in jail after convicting him of possessing narcotics.

Austin, who has worked with stars including Madonna and Michael Jackson, was not in the courtroom when the sentence was passed.

Lawyers said Austin had the right to appeal within 15 days against the ruling, which also stipulates that Austin be deported after serving the jail term.

Local newspapers said on Monday Austin had pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine during the trial at the Dubai Court of First Instance.

The Gulf News said Austin was arrested at Dubai airport on May 19 when police found at least 1.26 grams of the drug and other illegal substances in his possession.

Austin was reportedly flying into Dubai to attend a birthday party for supermodel Naomi Campbell.

''I'm guilty, but it was a mistake,'' he was quoted as telling the court. ''I didn't realise I had the drugs with me and I didn't intend to use them here in the UAE.'' Drug trafficking in the UAE carries the death penalty, but in practice, executions are rare. Drug smuggling convictions of foreigners often result in a jail term followed by deportation.

Diplomats say Dubai, one of seven emirates that make up the UAE and the Gulf region's trade and tourism hub, is a busy route for drug trafficking between Asia and Europe.

REUTERS CH DS1245

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