July 4, 2006

Jailed US music producer pardoned in Dubai: paper

DUBAI (Reuters) - Hip-hop producer Dallas Austin was
granted a pardon on Tuesday hours after a Dubai court sentenced
him to four years in jail for possession of narcotics, a local
newspaper said.

The report on the Gulf News Web site did not say who issued
the pardon, which is usually granted by the rulers of the
emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

"Dallas Austin has been pardoned," the newspaper quoted
judicial sources as saying.

It was not clear if Austin, who has worked with stars
including Madonna and Michael Jackson, had left Dubai.

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

They 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 realize 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.