x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Accused girl, 14, denies incident with bus driver ever took place

A Brazilian girl charged with consensual sex after her parents told police she was raped by a Pakistani bus driver has told a court that the incident never happened at all.

ABU DHABI // A Brazilian girl charged with consensual sex after her parents told police she was raped by a Pakistani bus driver testified yesterday in the Criminal Court of First Instance that the incident never happened at all. The 14-year-old girl and the 28-year-old driver are being tried according to Sharia law, in which people are treated as adults if they have reached the age of puberty.

But it has not been decided whether the girl has reached that age, officials said yesterday. The girl's lawyer argued that although she had reached puberty physically, Sharia law also required a person to be mentally mature. Even if the girl is found guilty of consensual sex, the driver, MH, would still be charged with statutory rape if the court ruled that the girl was not an adult. According to court records, prosecutors said MH went to the girl's home on April 4 when her parents were in Dubai.

What happened inside the flat is disputed. The girl initially said MH raped her, but the driver said he was invited inside by the girl, who then seduced him. The family's maid learnt about the incident and informed the girl's parents, who called police, prosecutors said. The girl was charged with consensual sex after prosecutors found that it would have been difficult for the driver to get into the flat without her consent.

Officials said yesterday that prosecutors found text messages in the phones of the defendants showing she arranged the meeting. Both denied the charges when they appeared before the court last week. The defendants' lawyers told the court yesterday there was no evidence the incident happened. Lawyers said the girl was tested at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department's forensic unit 37 days after the incident.

The girl's parents accompanied her to court. She is free on bail, but MH remains in police custody. If the judge accepts that she is not an adult under Sharia law and that the incident was falsely reported, he can "hand her to her parents", lawyers said. The legal procedure means a judge asks the family to educate their children about an issue. The verdict is scheduled for August 10.
hhassan@thenational.ae