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Irish teacher facing jail in Dubai over ‘rude gesture’

AN IRISHMAN who is facing prison in Dubai after allegedly insulting a policeman has said he never made a rude gesture to him.

Waterford man Conor Hayes is also facing deportation from the United Arab Emirates, where he has lived with his wife Bernie for 11 years over the incident which happened in January 2011.

He was found guilty of public obscenity for showing a middle finger gesture to a policeman but fought to have the case overturned.

But a Dubai court has now rejected his final appeal and ordered him to spend a month in jail before facing deportation.

Hayes was alleged to have shown the policeman the gesture after a taxi he was in pulled over to the side of the road, resulting in the driver of the car behind blowing his horn and flashing his lights.

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But today he denied insulting the driver, who turned out to be a policeman.

“As we were coming to the roundabout I used my right hand to say (to the taxi driver) you have to get into left lane, we live in there. If he (the policeman) can see that, and if he thinks that is a gesture, that is possible,” he explained.

Hayes was forced to hand his passport in to court, meaning he had to give up his job because he could not renew his work visa.

He also says that legal fees, loss of earnings, and fines have cost him in the region of €120,000.

“The only hope I have now is if the Irish government can get on to the Irish embassy here to make a special request for a Ramadan pardon,” he said.

Irish friends in Dubai have begun a campaign to keep him in the country and have him pardoned.

“No matter what happens, I would still promote Dubai to my friends abroad. I and my wife love it here, that’s why we fought so hard against the conviction, but options are running out,” he said.

His friend, the singer Declan Paddyman’ O’Sullivan, has posted campaign details on his website and said that huge numbers of people have come forward to offer help.

cfeehan@herald.ie


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