TALLINN - An Estonian serviceman sentenced to three months in prison by an Islamic court for alleged sexual harassment has opted for 80 lashes rather than serving time.
A Sharjah court imposed a one-month prison term on Sgt. Maj. Andrei Korol last week for consuming alcohol and an extra three months for the sexual harassment charge, press officer of the Estonian General Staff Peeter Tali told the Baltic News Service.
According to Tali, the lawyer representing Korol asked whether the three-month prison sentence could be replaced by some other punishment and the court suggested 80 lashes. "Korol has opted for the corporal punishment," Tali said.
He added that it wasn't clear at this point whether the sentence would be carried out. There is also the possibility of the sentence being appealed.
Korol has already spent more than a month in prison in Sharjah, one of the seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates, which means he has served the sentence for consuming alcohol.
The sergeant major, who was on his way back home after an eight-month stint in the Afghan capital Kabul as part of the Estonian mine clearance team EODT-6, was detained in the Sharjah international airport on Feb. 23 after he entered the office of a policewoman while drunk. Allegedly "physical contact" took place in the office between Korol and the policewoman, but the Egyptian policewoman, who works at Sharjah Airport, later told the Estonian media that there was no contact between them.
Nevertheless, the soldier was charged both with consuming alcohol and harassing the policewoman.
While drinking alcohol is banned in Sharjah, booze can be bought in the airport's transit zone.