Starwood has responded to questions posed by Australia’s Channel 7 Sunday Night TV program following its interview with Alicia Gali, the former employee who was jailed for eight months under Sharia law in the UAE after reporting an alleged rape by colleagues.
Gali, who was pardoned in the UAE and is now living in her native Australia, says she is suing both the Australian Government and Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah, where she worked as a salon manager, claiming both gave bad advice during the incident.
Starwood made the following response to the program’s questions which it also was posted on its Facebook Page, 12 May 2013.
“What happened in June 2008 to Alicia Gali, a former employee of Le Méridien Al Aqah hotel, was deplorable. While the hotel worked diligently on Ms. Gali’s behalf, the authorities investigated and prosecuted Ms. Gali under the local laws.
“Additionally, the men involved were also prosecuted and each served prison terms before being deported. As for Ms. Gali’s lawsuit against the hotel, we disagree with the allegations.
“The hotel management provided support and assistance to Ms. Gali and her family throughout that time, including assisting with medical support and the investigation, liaising with her representative Australian embassy and coordinating and arranging affairs with her family in Australia.
“Starwood’s repeated approaches to discuss Ms. Gali's claim with her attorneys have been ignored and declined. As this matter is part of an open on-going Starwood investigation and litigation commenced by Ms. Gali against Starwood and the Commonwealth of Australia, we cannot comment further at this time.
“The safety and security of our associates and guests continues to be a paramount priority.”
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also released a statement to the Sunday Night show.
"The Department rejects Ms Gali’s account of her dealings with the Australian Consulate in Dubai, as suggested in your letter of 7 May 2013. Ms Gali was provided with extensive consular assistance by the Australian Consulate in Dubai. Our consular officers do not give legal advice, but do assist Australians in trouble to obtain local legal advice.
"As this matter is subject to ongoing legal proceedings, the Department is unable to respond to the questions raised in your letter or participate in the Sunday Night program. The Department will present its position as necessary during the course of the legal proceedings."