An Estonian soldier on his way home after having served with the coalition forces in Afghanistan, was arrested in the United Arab Emirates and will be flogged. Andrei Korol was accused of being drunk and harassing a local policewoman while he was in transit at Sharjah international airport where they “make your life easy.”
The incident happened on 23 February. There were no witnesses of the alleged harassment. Korol’s comrades say that he was so tired and drunk that most of the time at the airport he was napping. UAE law does not allow locals to drink at all while foreigners can do it only in certain designated areas.
A court sentenced the Estonian sergeant major to a one month jail sentence for drinking and had him choose between either three months in jail or 80 lashes with a whip (which could be fatal). His lawyer says Korol chose flogging. He has already spent more than a month in a local jail.
Estonia has soldiers stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The soldiers are there for six months on a voluntary basis. The incident involving Andrei Korol has elicited severe criticism of the Estonian government. Some say Estonia is failing to provide protection to members of its armed forces from a so-called ally. Some are indignant at sharia laws. Others, however, criticise the Estonian army leadership for the lack of discipline among soldiers who are not on duty.