ABU DHABI // A stepmother convicted of severely abusing her nine-year-old daughter told an appeals court yesterday she did not mean any abuse and that corporal discipline was the way she was taught to raise a child.
The stepmother and the father were sentenced on April 26, 2009, to 10 years in prison and a total fine of Dh160,000. The public prosecution appealed, demanding the maximum penalty of 15 years. The parents also appealed in hopes of reducing the sentence.
The Court of Appeals reduced the sentence on June 2 to seven years in prison and upheld the fine. On September 10, 2010, the Court of Cassation ordered a retrial because the parents were tried without a lawyer.
The parents appeared before the Court of Appeals again under a new panel. The father denied he abused his daughter, who is now 10. He asked for leniency.
The stepmother asked the court to give her a second chance to "prove to the world that [she] is a good person".
The girl was admitted to hospital in February 2009, and her father told doctors she had fallen off her bicycle, according to prosecutors. She had severe bruises, burns and scars on her body.
According to medical reports, she was 80 per cent physically disabled. Doctors who examined her doubted the father's claim and contacted the police, who arrested him and the girl's stepmother. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, visited the girl in hospital with his daughter.
The woman pleaded guilty to beating the child with a stick several times. She confessed to using a heated knife to burn the daughter's face only when the judge cited forensic tests.
"I did that solely for discipline, I did not mean any abuse," the stepmother told the judges. "This is how we were brought up, this is what we learned from our parents."
The verdict is scheduled for January 25. The case will then be referred to the Court of Cassation for a final verdict.