x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hijri age claim in UAE gang rape trial

The lawyer of five men charged with raping a teenager says she should be charged with consensual sex since she is older than 14 years according to Islamic calendar years.

ABU DHABI // A lawyer for five men accused of raping a 14-year-old girl claimed yesterday that, as she was older in hijri (Islamic calendar) years, the charge should be changed to consensual sex.

"The law says that age should be measured according to hijri years," said the lawyer, who requested the girl's birth certificate be submitted to the court. "In hijri years she is more than 14."

Prosecutors say the girl, an Emirati, had sex with five men over the course of four days before she was found abandoned in the desert.

Five men, including two police officers, were charged with rape as, at 14, a girl is judged too young to have consented to the act.

But the defence lawyer claimed yesterday that the sexual acts took place with the teenager's consent, and that she was old enough in hijri years to consent to such acts.

Yesterday in court, Chief Justice Sayed Abdul Baseer told one of the suspects that his DNA matched sperm found on the girl's body. "I don't know anything about this," replied the man.

Another defendant asked for bail. "I have been in prison for three months and I need to get out to take care of my mother," he said.

"In a sexual assault case you cannot be bailed," replied the judge. "Be patient, if you are not convicted you will be released."

The case was adjourned to February 17 to hear defence arguments and to check the girl's birth certificate.

hdajani@thenational.ae

aalkhoori@thenational.ae