UPDATE: Dubai: Mother jailed for adultery loses custody fight for children
Her friend Sandy Norman said today's family court hearing in Dubai was "a done deal". She said: "As she was found guilty of adultery, it makes her an unfit mother. To my knowledge, no woman has won custody of her children in Dubai. It will be down to Marnie now to seek whatever custody rights from the UK when she returns."
Pearce was not present in court, but Norman said she would continue to fight an order for her deportation so she could remain in the same country as her sons. Norman said: "She's not coping well at all. If you mention the boys, or if she thinks about the boys, she cries. She's said to me that the most pain this causes her is not seeing the boys grow up and sharing those moments with them."
The boys had not yet visited their mother – who fears she will not see them until they are 18 if she is deported – but they wanted to see her, Norman said. In a statement posted on the campaign website, Save Marnie's Babies, Pearce wrote: "I have been the best mother that I could possibly have been. I may not be perfect but I have given them everything that God says you should give to your babies.
"They are my life and I would die for them. I really have battled and fought so hard and only God knows what lays ahead. I cannot even begin to put into words the feelings of desperation, loss, fear and numbness that I feel."
Pearce met her ex-husband in Oman and the couple married in the Seychelles in September 1999. They moved to Dubai after having their two children, but their marriage broke down. She was arrested and accused of committing adultery in March last year, but she insists the British man she was with was only a friend.
Human rights group Amnesty International has called for her immediate and unconditional release, describing her as a "prisoner of conscience". It argues that, regardless of claims against her, consenting sex between adults is not criminal matter.
24 March 2009
By Alexandra Topping and agencies
Source: The Guardian