x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Bus rape defendants deny charges in Court of Appeal

Prosecutors re-filed charges after three Indian men were acquitted by the Criminal Court of First Instance of molesting a four-year-old on a school bus.

DUBAI // Three men acquitted of sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl on her school bus last year denied charges before the Court of Appeal this morning.

Prosecution said the Indian nationals, JT, 43; MP, 44; and FS, 38, who worked as her school bus driver and attendants, sexually assaulted her on November 11, 2010, last year after dropping off all the other students at their destinations.

The men were cleared by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance, but prosecutors appealed.

Prosecutor Ahmed al Attar of the Bur Dubai prosecution told the court this morning that the men should receive the harshest possible punishment because of the severity of their actions.

Their lawyer, Samir Ja'afar, told the court that when he read the file for the first time he was disgusted – but after reading it again thoroughly, his clients' innocence stood out. He said there was no evidence to back the girl's parents' claims.

According to the appeal, the bus workers called the girl's mother and told her not to worry if the bus came late, because there were traffic jams.

The victim also Indian, was a student of Modern High School in Nad Al Sheba. Prosecutors said she was taken to an empty parking lot where MP, the bus conductor, approached her and sat her on his lap.

MP allegedly spoke to her and comforted her, then lifted her skirt and touched her inappropriately. Prosecutors said the child started crying, but JT and FS then assaulted her.

The parents reported the incident to police nearly two months after it allegedly occurred. SK, the victim's father, testified that she reacted in fear around him, which led them to send her to a doctor to see what was wrong.

The doctors confirmed the girl had been molested. At that point, SK said, the girl described to her mother what the men had done to her.

A forensic expert, SZ, said in her report there were no signs of a sexual assault, but added that such evidence usually disappears in a matter of hours.

salamir@thenational.ae