x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

'I wanted to marry girl who died': man tells UAE court

Man accused of illicit relationship with girl he texted before she fell to her death from a balcony tells court he planned to marry her.

ABU DHABI // A man planned to marry the 14-year-old girl he texted moments before she fell to her death from a balcony, a court heard yesterday.

S, from Syria, in his early 20s, slashed one of his wrists shortly after finding his compatriot's body in a pool of blood on September 5, but was rescued after calling the emergency services.

Despite investigators finding text messages on both their mobile phones vowing to commit suicide, prosecutors classified the messages as "jokes" and charged the man only with beautifying the sin and not attempted suicide. The charge relates to the romantic content of other messages sent between the pair - a criminal offence if a couple is not engaged.

However, the man told the Misdemeanours Court that he intended to marry the girl, but he could not propose because of the situation in their home country.

"We come from original families, and our traditions say we send the women to ask for the bride's hand in marriage," he told the judge. "I was waiting for my family to travel here to propose but because of the situation in Syria they couldn't make it."

He argued there was no penalty under Sharia for his actions as the goal behind the messages was to get to know his future wife.

A verdict is expected on January 30.