ABU DHABI // A man initially charged with seven different offences, including raping his family's maid, was sentenced yesterday to nearly five years on lesser charges.
In addition to the rape charge, MS, an Emirati, was charged with possessing and consuming drugs, possessing a weapon and ammunition without a licence, drinking alcohol and minor physical assault.
The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance acquitted him yesterday of rape, but convicted him of having sex without consent, a lesser charge. A defendant can be sentenced for sex without consent if there is insufficient evidence of rape, but there are indications that a rape did occur.
MS was sentenced to six months on the sex charge, but could have faced up to seven years if he had been convicted of rape.
He was also sentenced to four years for drug abuse - the minimum sentence - three months for illegal possession of weapons and ammunition, and one month and a Dh5,000 fine for minor physical assault.
His lawyer had argued the sex was consensual because the maid did not report the incident until she was physically assaulted. He cited a ruling by the Court of Cassation, suggesting that if a rape victim consented to sex at any later point, no rape charges could be pressed against her attacker.
It was not clear whether the court accepted the lawyer's argument; MS was acquitted of rape and drinking alcohol because of "insufficient evidence".
Prosecutors accused him of raping his Ethiopian housemaid three times in May. He also beat her with a stick in June, prosecutors said. The maid did not report the cases when they happened, the court heard.
In June, however, he tried to rape her a fourth time, but she resisted and he beat her. The maid told the court she did not report the previous incidents out of fear, saying he had threatened to kill her if she reported the assaults.
But he said he beat her because he suspected she was having sex with another man. When the court asked MS whether he pleaded guilty to having sex with the maid, he said he could not remember because he was heavily influenced by drugs.
His lawyer said the confession to police was dubious because although he confessed to drinking, forensic tests showed no alcohol in his system. Further, he argued, tests showed no evidence of rape. He also said his client was physically weak, incapable of raping the housemaid because he was a drug addict.
The man's lawyer asked the court in previous hearings to acquit his client of all charges except drug abuse, to which the defendant confessed. The lawyer asked the court to send the defendant to a rehabilitation centre.
After his arrest, police found illegal weapons and ammunition in his house. He said one of the handguns belonged to his brother, who had a licence, and that he bought the other handgun from a weapons fair and was obtaining a licence.
In August, during a hearing, the maid asked the court to send her to a safe place because she feared the defendant's family would hurt her. She claimed the family offered her two years' worth of salary if she dropped the complaint and changed her testimony. Prosecutors at the court advised her to report that to her embassy, and the judge granted her permission to travel home.