x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dubai mother who hid baby's body in suitcase denies murder, court hears

A maid accused of suffocating her newborn girl by hiding her inside a suitcase insisted today that the child was stillborn, the Dubai Criminal Court heard today.

DUBAI // A maid accused of suffocating her newborn girl by hiding her inside a suitcase insisted today that the child was stillborn.

"I didn't kill her, she was born dead," the 29-year-old Ethiopian JA told judge Hamad Abdul Latif at the Criminal Court, where the maid is facing a charge of premeditated murder.

However, a postmortem on the child's body showed it was born alive and was breast-fed at least once before dying of suffocation.

The maid previously claimed she hid the baby in the suitcase because she was scared of being punished for sex outside of marriage. She is undergoing a separate trial at the Misdemeanour Court on this charge.

Prosecutors claim the maid became pregnant by AK, 35, a driver from India, in August last year while they were employed by an elderly Emirati couple in Al Mutaineh 2.

According to court records the maid kept the pregnancy secret from her employers and gave birth alone in her room this April 24, using a knife to cut the umbilical cord.

After the birth, the maid's employers grew suspicious at the number of breaks she requested, often retiring to her room saying she was tired.

The couple booked her a plane ticket home, but kept the booking a secret and told the maid to shower and get dressed so they could all go out.

While she was in the shower they began to search her bags, but the maid noticed and rushed back out of the bathroom to stop them.

The Emirati woman said she checked one of the maid's bags, but when she tried to check a second one the maid stopped her, then grabbed something wrapped in a black shayla and tried to flee the house. The family chased and caught her and found that the shayla contained the baby's body. They called the police.

A police officer told prosecutors the baby's body showed signs of decomposition, and the abdomen and face had turned green and swollen.

"When I asked her why she put the baby in a bag, she said she was scared she would be caught for having an illicit relationship and an illicit child," he said.

The maid and the driver are charged with consensual sex outside of marriage at the Misdemeanors Court. The maid alone faces the charge of premeditated murder in the Criminal Court.

The Criminal Court case was adjourned to October 15 to appoint a lawyer for the maid.

salamir@thenational.ae