x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

GPS shows bus staff 'did not molest girl', says defence

Charges were filed as blackmail attempt, he argues, noting that the girl's mother applied for a job at her school in the 59 days between the alleged crime and the police report.

DUBAI // The defence lawyer for three bus workers accused of molesting a four-year-old girl told a court yesterday that GPS data exonerated his clients and that the charges had been filed in an attempt to blackmail the child’s school.

J?T, 43; M?P, 44; and F?S, 38, all Indians, who worked as the girl’s school bus driver and attendants, are accused of sexually assaulting her on November 11 last year, after dropping off all the other students at their destinations.

Sameer Ja’afar, of Ja’afar Alwan and Al Jaziri and Associates Advocates, told the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance yesterday that if he had found one piece of evidence showing his clients’ guilt, he would not have represented them. He noted official medical examinations showed no sign of rape nor conclusive evidence of abuse.

He added that the bus’s GPS system data, submitted yesterday, showed the bus took its ordinary route and did not stop in an abandoned area as the charges allege.

“The bus made five stops to drop students to their homes,” the defence filing said. “The device provides the location of the bus every three minutes as well as any stops made and their timings. It also shows the timings it leaves the school and those of its return to school. The report from the GEMS GPS control room said the bus stopped at 10.53am to drop off a child and then continued to its next destination to drop off the girl without stopping, and arrived at her house at 11.02, which eliminates any possibility that they had parked and molested the girl.”

Mr Ja’afar told the court the real motivation for the charges was to blackmail the school into granting the girl’s mother a job at the GEMS-operated Modern High School in Nad Al Sheba. He said text messages from her to the school’s principal as recently as March 13 stated that she wanted to be hired.

The mother confirmed that she had sought a job there, but told The National she had applied so she could be near her traumatised daughter.

Mr Ja’afar questioned why the parents had waited 59 days before filing their report to police, noting that, in the meantime, the mother had sent a letter to the school seeking a job.

“Based on her testimony, she said she made sure of the molestation on November 18, a week after the alleged incident, your honour. Then why did she go the police [nearly two months later]?” he asked.

The family had testified they took the girl to a clinic for an examination on November 18 after suspecting abuse, but were told by the clinic to go to the police, which they did not. The girl’s father told The National he was aware of the importance of reporting such crimes quickly to preserve evidence, but added he gave priority to his daughter, who he said was threatened with death by the defendants.

He added that the family had a report from a hospital in India that said there were obvious signs of sexual trauma. That report has not been submitted to the court because it is handwritten and not translated into Arabic.

Mr Ja’afar said the girl went to India with her family after her father told the school on November 26 they were visiting her ill grandmother, and mentioned nothing of a hospital examination.

The second defence lawyer, Hussein al Jaziri, told the court the media had already painted his clients as predators and rapists. Both lawyers argued the confessions of their clients were obtained by torture.

Prosecutor Ahmed Abdulla al Attar told the court that a psychiatrist had studied the defendants’ confessions and denials and found they were trying to deceive themselves and the court. He asked the court to add the report to the evidence file.

But Mr Ja’afar reiterated there was no concrete evidence connecting his clients to the crime.

“All I found, your honour, are baseless accusations,” he said.

A verdict is scheduled for April 6.

salamir@thenational.ae