x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Boys 'made up sex charge', imam's lawyer tells court

He says the case against the imam accused of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy is based on lies made up by the boy and his brother to get out of Quran lessons.

DUBAI // The case against an imam convicted of sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy is based on lies made up by the boy and his brother to get out of Quran lessons, the imam's lawyer told an appeals court yesterday. Harun Tahlak, who is representing DH, 26, from India, also told the Dubai Court of Appeal that his client's confession had been beaten out of him. DH was sentenced to three years in jail on May 11 for molesting the American boy on January 26 at a mosque in Tiffany Tower, Jumeirah Lake Towers. He is currently on bail pending the appeal.

DH's lawyer said yesterday that the boy's father had lied in his evidence. "The father said he made a deal with the imam and paid him to teach his kids. However, he never met the imam or spoke to him before; it was the mother who made the deal," he said.  DH's lawyer said the case was based on lies. "Your honour, these children simply did not want to take the lessons that their parents subjected them to," he said. "They were forced to take these classes at five every morning and they saw this teacher, who was a replacement tutor, as a stern instructor."

Mr Tahlak said the boy's father told investigating officers he would be questioned by US authorities if a case was not filed, and warned he would implicate police for not taking action. The lawyer said the evidence was inconclusive and the boy's brother and mother were not called for statements. "The mother was the person who primarily dealt with the teacher. None of her statements were taken by prosecutors. The brother was present with him when the alleged assault took place. He was not called to testify by prosecutors," he said.

Mr Tahlak also claimed DH's confession was taken under duress, and asked the court to launch an inquiry implicating the officers who assaulted him during interrogation. He also asked that the court present the interrogating officers for cross-examination. A medical report was submitted to court outlining the alleged assault. Mr Tahlak said his client confessed only to kissing the boy innocently.  Records show the boy was taken to a private room and molested while the his 10-year-old brother was ordered to sit in a corner of the mosque and memorise verses from the Quran.  The court will issue its verdict next week. @Email:amustafa@thenational.ae