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Scorpions rock band drummer jailed in Dubai, accused drunken outburst

By Schams Elwazar, CNN
updated 6:44 AM EDT, Thu May 1, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Kottak admitted to a Dubai court that he had been drinking, reports say
  • The Scorpions were at Dubai International Airport, on their way to Moscow for a concert
  • Reports: Witnesses say he flipped off passengers, insulted Muslims and dropped his pants
  • Kottak denies the witness accounts, but he's sentenced to a month in jail, reports say

(CNN) -- The drummer for the Scorpions rock band has been sentenced to a month in jail for being drunk, insulting Muslims and lowering his trousers at Dubai International Airport, local media reported.

James Kottak, the band's 51-year-old American drummer, admitted to a Dubai court Tuesday that he had been drinking when he landed at the airport on April 3 on a flight from Moscow, court reporters from The National and Gulf News said.

The band was on its way to Bahrain for a concert for the Formula One Grand Prix.

Witnesses said that Kottak became angry and swore. One passenger services agent is quoted as telling the court that "he was shouting 'non-educated Muslims,' then he went to the office of the head and flashed his middle finger at the passengers."

Kottak admitted to drinking but denied making any insulting comments about Muslims and denied flashing his middle finger.

A policeman testified that Kottak shouted that he wouldn't travel with a group of Pakistanis and Afghans, saying they "smell," a claim Kottak denied. Witnesses also said Kottak removed his trousers, but his lawyer said he just raised his shirt to show off a tattoo.

Kottak's lawyer, named by The National as Hamid al-Khazraji, argued that his client was innocent and that testimony from witnesses was contradictory.

Dubai police confirmed the arrest but would not comment on details. Kottak "was arrested at the airport earlier this month after complaints about his behavior. He was then, according to the law, referred to the prosecution department," a Dubai police source told CNN Arabic.

The band made its first comment on the incident on its Facebook page Wednesday.

"When James Kottak arrived in Dubai at 3. april, he ran into problems at immigrations and got busted. whatever happened is totally out of our control and we don't know any details about it at this point," the post read.

Court reporters said Kottak will be deported within days after his jail term ends. The Gulf News described the sentence as "lenient."

The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country, and while some licensed venues serve alcohol, the Government of Dubai Code of Conduct says that "being caught under the effect of alcohol" outside licensed venues, even in light doses, "can lead to a fine or incarceration."

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