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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

‘Hospital or maid to blame,’ says lawyer of mother jailed for son’s death

Prosecutors are appealing the three-year sentence handed to the Emirati mother in May but defence lawyer makes case for her immediate release.

The lawyer of an Emirati woman convicted of killing her toddler by stamping on his stomach has accused the hospital that treated him and the family’s housemaid of potentially causing the boy’s death.

Fahad Ahmed Bin Tamim said a skull fracture that the 14-month-old had could have happened at the private hospital and that the maid who testified that the mother had been aggressive with her son before was also suspect.

The 33-year-old mother was jailed for three years in May for stamping on her son’s stomach so hard that he died in hospital in July last year. Prosecutors appealed the “lenient” sentence but the mother’s lawyer on Sunday made the case for her immediate release considering the time she has already served and the fact that the boy’s father has submitted a waiver dropping charges against his wife.

“At about midnight, the hospital calls the child’s parents and asks them to urgently take the child home,” said Mr Tamim.

“They gave excuses that the insurance doesn’t cover the stay, then a couple of days later, the parents discover the head injury. Maybe he fell at the hospital and they discharged him in a hurry to cover it up.”

He went on to say that the maid who testified against the mother was a suspect herself and so would have no qualms about accusing the mother.

“She said she saw the mother pressing on the child’s stomach but she failed to say that this happened four months before his death and it happened because the child was bloated,” said Mr Tamim. “My client acted like any mother would and tried to massage the baby’s stomach.”

He also told Dubai Court of Appeal that the child suffered from many health problems and was prescribed lots of medication that caused his health to deteriorate.

“My client was caring for her son during all the time he was ill,” said Mr Tamim. “The court of first instance based its conviction on evidence that does not stand [up].”

The incident that led to the boy’s death happened at the woman’s home in Al Qusais on July 16 last year. She took the child to the Al Barsha hospital where he later died. Doctors then alerted police.

An Egyptian doctor working at the hospital said the baby had been treated for a number of problems, such as a brain haemorrhage, diarrhoea, vomiting, then a fractured thigh bone and a fractured skull.

The maid and the mother’s sister both testified against her at the criminal court and said she treated the child mercilessly, shoving spoons into his mouth, tying him up and throwing him naked on the bathroom floor to bathe him. The sister said that she discovered her nephew’s bruises were being covered with make-up.

A medical report found that the child died because of internal bleeding in the abdomen caused by violent pressure, which damaged his intestines.

However, Mr Tamim said the report was based on conclusions drawn after doctors noticed the number of times the child was admitted to hospitals.

“Two doctors were asked if the amount of medication, including one for epilepsy, the child took would negatively affect his health, and both said no. How could they be decisive? They are not pharmacology scientists to be that certain,” he said.

Insisting his client was innocent, the lawyer requested that the case is referred to a committee of competent physicians and pharmacology scientists.

An appeals court verdict will be issued on September 14.