| 14/10/29 DUBAI - A Dubai court jailed a Pakistani for 15 years for smuggling heroin in bags containing copies of the Holy Quran, prayer mats and other religious paraphernalia.
The 30-year-old man, identified only by his initials M.T., was convicted of possessing 24 kilogrammes (53 pounds) of heroin that was stashed in five bags with hidden compartments, the Gulf News daily said.
"When we opened the bags, we found prayer mats, prayer beads and copies of the Koran along with food and the drugs," a Dubai International Airport customs inspector was quoted as saying.
The defendant was fined 200,000 dirhams ($54,500) and will be deported after serving his sentence, the report said.
He has 15 days to appeal the ruling by the Dubai court of first instance.
Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, has strict drug laws.
Trafficking in illegal narcotics is punishable by death, although the sentences are often commuted to life imprisonment.
Drug possession without the intent to "promote" the narcotics carries lighter penalties.