x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Alleged victim too drunk to heed, says lawyer

Woman had been at a nightclub and was under the influence of alcohol when she made her complaint to police at 4am.

abu dhabi // The lawyer for one of two students appealing against sexual assault convictions said the alleged victim's testimony was invalid because she was drunk when she reported the men to police.

The lawyer, Fayza Moussa, told the Appeals Court that the woman had been at a nightclub and was under the influence of alcohol when she made her complaint at 4am.

"When police smelled liquor on her breath they conducted a test and she proved positive; there was no objection to the test results yet the first instance court counted her testimony," Mrs Moussa said.

The two students, MA and MO, both Palestinians, were found guilty of sexually assaulting the woman, an Arab, after she entered a lift in a residential building in January. One of the men was said to have molested her while she was in the lift, the other when she was allowed to leave the lift when it reached the sixth floor.

Mrs Moussa was representing MA, who was accused of grabbing the woman's breasts as she stepped out of the lift. She said that her client denied the incident had happened and that the woman's testimony should not be taken into account.

MO, represented by the lawyer Tarek Al Serkal, was accused of assaulting the woman in the lift. Mr Al Serkal argued that the woman's story was not credible.

"She said he took her in the lift and he kept going to different floors up and down until he stopped at the sixth floor. She said he did all that while holding her mouth so she could not scream, pulling her from her hair and undressing them both at the same time.

"I tried to imagine how it was possible ... but it's impossible," the lawyer said. "Why didn't she scream or try to escape when he did that? There are no injuries on her that show resistance."

The judge replied that there were bruises on the woman's body. Mrs Moussa interjected that this was proof only of injury and not enough to convict the men.

Mr Al Serkal said that the woman had tried to "blackmail their families into paying her Dh50,000 so she can drop all charges. When they failed to do so she continued with the lawsuit."

The judge then asked MO why he chose the sixth floor. "I did not choose anything or go in the lift, none of this happened," he replied.

The judge asked him why the woman had accused him.

"She did not complain about me and she did not point to me either; CID pointed at me for her," replied the student. He argued that she was drunk during the identity parade and was mixed up.

The Criminal Court originally gave the students sentences of three to six months followed by deportation. Lawyers for both men argued that they should not be deported because of the situation in their homeland.

The case was adjourned and no date for its resumption was set.

hdajani@thenational.ae