Dubai: A couple who were kissing publicly in a mall here tied the knot, hoping to prove their innocence.

A shopper spotted the couple exchanging kisses at the shopping mall in Bur Dubai and informed the police in May.

Prosecutors accused the Iranian man and the South African woman of committing a lewd act in public and exchanging kisses.

“We did not kiss on the lips, we just pecked cheeks,” the man told the Dubai Appeal Court on Thursday where he entered a not guilty plea. The South African woman also told the presiding judge that they did exchange kisses but on the cheeks.

“The suspects have pleaded innocent and contended that they did not kiss on the lips but they pecked cheeks. The duo also argued that they did not commit any lewd act in the shopping mall since they kissed on the cheeks and that their behaviour is considered decent and not immoral. They have also provided the court with a copy of their marriage contract to prove that they are married,” said the presiding judge in court.

In October, the Dubai Misdemeanours Court acquitted the couple of any wrongdoing for lack of corroborated evidence.

A judgement will be heard next month against the couple, who are on bail.

According to the Penal Law, a judge is obligated to hand out a deportation order against any suspects who commit sex-related crimes (such as rape, molestation, consensual sex, kissing, flirting or any form of sexual interaction or activity).

There have been several cases where couples were tried for involvement in sex-related crimes and ended up getting married to win a reduced or suspended imprisonment. However, in most cases a marriage contract helps defendants get a reduced or suspended punishment but the convicts are deported.

Speaking to Gulf News about such cases, a senior prosecutor said: “We often come across such a practice. When couples are caught having sex outside marriage for instance, some of them get married before being sentenced in the hope of getting a suspended imprisonment. When couples are caught, they marry even for short periods of time, out of fear of going to prison. They agree upon themselves that they will marry temporarily [without informing the authorities] until after the ruling comes out and then go for divorce.”