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30th April 2014

The Scorpions with Mark Cross understands that The Scorpions will sack drummer James Kottak when he is released from a Dubai, United Arab Emirates jail this Saturday, 3rd May.

The 51-year-old American was convicted yesterday (Tuesday) morning of insulting Islam and sentenced to a month in jail. The sentence includes time already spent in detention. He was also fined 2,000 dirhams (approximately $545) for drinking alcohol without a license.

Kottak had consumed five glasses of wine on an April 3rd flight from Moscow to Dubai while flying to Bahrain with Gulf Air to perform two days later at the country's Formula One Grand Prix but after taking a wrong turn and entering the transit hall, the drummer started swearing and talking about "non-educated Muslims before he flashed his middle finger at passengers," according to witnesses. Police said he also lowered his trousers and showed people his behind.

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An officer said he heard Kottak saying "what is this disgusting smell" before the drummer insulted Islam. "I didn't see anything else but I heard him," the officer said. "I then informed my supervisor, who came and took the defendant away."

A 27-year-old client service employee at the airport added: "When he [Kottak] saw the Pakistani and Afghani passengers, he covered his nose and said that there was no way he will travel with them."

He added that the drummer then started swearing repeatedly at the arrivals area of Terminal 2. "He wasn't talking to a person specifically but was talking in general," the client service employee said. "He was very nervous at the time and talking loudly."

A 25-year-old Jordanian passenger services agent said Kottak came over to her and "was shouting 'non-educated Muslims' then he went to the office of the head and flashed his middle finger at the passengers."

Kottak denied that he insulted Islam, telling prosecutors: "I don't remember saying these words and I did not flash my middle finger."

He also denied taking down his trousers, saying: "This is not true — I just lifted my shirt up to show the tattoo on my back" as a "spontaneous act." "There is no way that I would say such a phrase about Muslims, whether I was drunk or not," he said.

"I confess to drinking alcohol but I refuse the other two charges, I did not do them," he added.

Because of his arrest, Kottak did not perform with his bandmates at the April 5th show at the 2014 Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix and was replaced at the gig by Mark Cross (Tank, Tainted Nation, Firewind, Outloud, Helloween, Metallium).

The Scorpions will fire Kottak as his behaviour and conviction are unacceptable to a band of their stature and social conscience. The Scorpions have written many songs over the years promoting peace and tolerance for the world over and this incident will jeopardise any future opportunities the band may get to play in Islamic countries.

Former Helloween, Tank and Firewind drummer Mark Cross is likely to replace Kottak full time.

Cross stepped in at very short notice to replace Kottak for the Bahrain Grand Prix show and did an excellent job, as you can see in the video below.

The Scorpions are currently in the middle of five MTV Unplugged dates in Germany and are using Swedish drummer Johan Franzon.

The band have issued a statement in the last hour which reads:

"Dear fans,
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. for the concerts in Germany Johan Franzon, a Swedish drummer, will take James seat. please understand, we keep you posted, SCORPIONS"

Mark Cross is currently a full-time member of Tainted Nation and will be performing with the band at the following gigs:

May 22nd 2014 Slade Rooms Wolverhampton England
May 24th 2014 Static Swansea Wales
May 25th 2014 The Underwold London

The Scorpions have the following dates booked:

May 1st 2014 Cologne Germany Lanxess Arena (MTV Unplugged)
May 2nd 2014 Hamburg Germany o2World (MTV Unplugged)
May 4th 2014 Stuttgart Germany Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle (MTV Unplugged)
June 13th 2014 Murten Switzerland Stars Of Sounds
June 20th 2014 Vitoria-Gasteiz Spain Azkena Rock Festival
July 18th 2014 Padova Italy Hydrogen Festival - Piazzola sul Brenta
July 26th 2014 Kuopio Finland Kuopiorock Festival
August 1st 2014 Graz Austria Seerockfestival
September 19th 2014 Zürich Switzerland Hallenstadion
November 27th 2014 Rotterdam Netherlands Ahoy
November 29th 2014 Brussels Belgium Palais 12


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