x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Jailed imam cleared by appeal court of molesting boy, 8

An imam found guilty of sexually assaulting a boy has been cleared by the Dubai Court of Appeal.

DUBAI // An imam found guilty of sexually assaulting a boy has been cleared by the Dubai Court of Appeal after doubt was cast over the eight-year-old's claim. The imam was sentenced to three years in jail last May for molesting an American Quran student on January 26 at a mosque in Tiffany Tower, Jumeirah Lake Towers. The lawyer Harun Tahlak, who represented the Indian imam DH, 26, told the court the case was based on lies made up by the boy and his brother in an attempt to get out of Quran lessons. "Your honour, these children simply did not want to take the lessons that their parents subjected them to," he said. "They were forced to take these classes at five every morning and they saw this teacher, who was a replacement tutor, as a stern instructor."

Mr Tahlak said his client, who had been granted bail during the trial, confessed only to kissing the boy innocently. He told the court that D H's confession was taken under duress, and asked that an inquiry implicating the officers who allegedly assaulted him during interrogation be launched. A medical report was submitted to court outlining the alleged assault. After the verdict, Mr Tahlak said: "This man's life was destroyed for a child's lie. Parents must be vigilant and very careful before pointing fingers with such accusations."

The boy's American father told officers that he would be questioned by the American authorities if a case was not filed and that in turn he would implicate police for not taking action, according to statements given in evidence. Mr Tahlak told the court that police and prosecutors gave in to the father's constant pushing without reviewing the details of the case. "Simple facts were not investigated properly," Mr Tahlak said yesterday. "The father said that he made the deal with the imam and paid him to teach his kids. However, he had never met the imam and had never spoken to him before; it was the mother who made the deal. The mother was the person who primarily dealt with the teacher, [yet] none of her statements were taken by prosecutors. The brother was present with him when the alleged assault took place and he was not called to testify by prosecutors."

amustafa@thenational.ae