Australian trapped in Lebanon on adultery charges

Last updated 13:46 25/07/2014
Mahassen Issa
TRAPPED: Mahassen Issa with new partner Mohammed Awick.

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An Australian woman trapped in Lebanon and facing adultery charges raised by her husband has been disowned by her family and friends.

Mahassen Issa, 29, was due to return home to her two sons, aged six and nine, when she was charged with adultery over the weekend. She flew to Lebanon to visit her new partner Mohammed Awick.

"I have been accused of a crime from an ex-spouse seeking revenge on me and my partner. My entire family has turned their backs on me as well as my relatives and friends,'' Issa said.

Images have been released allegedly showing the new couple were married in the last three weeks. 

Issa said she met her new partner while on holidays in Lebanon to escape a messy divorce from her husband Bassen, who lives in Sydney. Austrailan divorce proceedings require seperation of a least a year.

Issa claimed she separated from her first husband in September 2013. He claimed they were together until April this year. It was understood the charges were triggered when Bassen registered their marriage in Lebanon two weeks go.

The exact charges the Australian-born primary school teacher was facing were unclear. Issa said she was facing adultery charges. Her husband's family told the Daily Mail they also included bigamy charges.

Both charges can result in jail time.

Her Australian husband's family said "she's getting what she deserves". The former couple's children were living with their father in Sydney.

Her own family told Australian media they had disowned her.

Her brother Ahmed told Network Ten he had tried to control the situation as much as he could and was unmoved by his sister's panic. He claimed he had advised against pursuing her new relationship.

"We have disowned her," her mother Nala said. "She's not part of our family, full stop."

Her brother told Maquarie Radio his sister "deserved what she gets" as she had not followed instructions and "wronged the system".

"I have no support from any outside party to assist me and my partner and I am trying my very best to come back home safely," Issa said.

An Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman confirmed it was providing assistance to an Australian woman in Beirut but declined to comment further, including whether or not Issa was a Lebanese citizen.

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Dr Minerva Naser-Eddine, a lecturer at the Australian National University's Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, said it was likely Issa was a Lebanese citizen.

"Within Lebanon there is a civil legal code which everyone needs to clearly abide by, and then there are religious courts that exist for each group in Lebanon. She is probably being charged by an Islamic court," Naser-Eddine said.

"Her citizenship will play a role in how the local authorities and courts treat her."

Issa said she would face court in Tripoli on Thursday.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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