x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

A mother to stand trial accused of torturing to death Mariam, her four-year-old daughter, told police she was only trying to teach her child manners, court sources say.

ABU DHABI // A mother to stand trial accused of torturing her four-year-old daughter to death told police she was only trying to teach the child manners, court sources revealed yesterday.

Mariam died from a brain haemorrhage and skull fractures shortly after being admitted to hospital earlier this month because she was suffering breathing difficulties and vomiting.

A post-mortem found the fractures were the result of continuous beatings and that Mariam had sustained several injuries over a period of years. Bruises covered her body, and some of the injuries suggested she had been beaten with heavy objects.

Doctors were shocked at how thin and malnourished Mariam’s body was and her parents were arrested.

Police said that when they confronted the mother she admitted beating Mariam but showed no signs of regret or sadness. She said she had merely intended to discipline her daughter and teach her good manners, and did not intend to harm her.

Prosecutors at first suspected the couple were not Mariam’s biological parents, but DNA testing proved they were.

Throughout police investigations Mariam’s father insisted that he was not involved in bringing up his daughter and that he left this task to her mother.

Investigators found that the mother often stopped Mariam from attending school – the mother said she did so because Mariam was “naughty and uncontrollable”.

Police believe Mariam was also starved for periods of days at a time and was often left at home unattended as forms of punishment.

However, investigators found that Mariam’s brother, 5, showed no signs of malnutrition or mistreatment, but had been treated with “love and care”. The boy is now in the custody of his maternal grandfather.

Prosecutors say Mariam’s mother and father will be charged with torturing her and endangering her life.

The case was referred to the Criminal Court last week, and a trial is expected by the end of the month.

aalkhoori@thenational.ae