July 5, 2006

US music producer leaves Dubai after pardon: paper

DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. music producer Dallas Austin left
the United Arab Emirates for New York on Wednesday after being
pardoned for a drug offence, a local newspaper reported.

Austin, who has worked with stars including Madonna and
Michael Jackson, was granted a pardon on Tuesday hours after a
court in the Gulf emirate of Dubai sentenced him to four years
in jail for possession of narcotics.

"He (Austin) was ... taken to Dubai airport, escorted by
his American legal representatives and business manager, before
boarding a morning flight bound for New York," the Gulf News
Web site quoted police sources as saying.

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

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.