x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Mosque child killer is sentenced to death by firing squad

Sea captain who lured Moosa Mukhtair, aged four, into a toilet at the holy site, before raping and killing him on the first day of Eid al Adha, must serve six months for illegal consumption of alcohol before the death penalty is carried out.

? I finally have peace, father says

Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, brutally murdered yards from his family home.
Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, brutally murdered yards from his family home.

DUBAI // A fishing boat captain who raped and murdered a four-year-old boy in a mosque on the first day of Eid al Adha was yesterday sentenced to death by firing squad. Rashid al Rashidi, 30, was also given six months in prison for illegal consumption of alcohol. He will have to serve this sentence before the death penalty is carried out.

Al Rashidi, an Emirati, had originally pleaded not guilty before the Dubai Court of First Instance to the premeditated murder and rape of Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, but later switched his plea to guilty. As soon as the sentence was handed down Mukhtiar Ahmed Khudabaksh, the father of the boy, went straight to the mosque where his son had died to offer prayers. Mr Ahmed had been in court with Moosa's uncle and seven-year-old brother Mustafa. They wept and hugged each other as the sentence was passed.

"This man deserved this sentence," Mr Khudabaksh said. "I want to thank the people who stood by me and the court for this decision." In their judgment the panel of three judges, presided over by Judge Fahmy Mounir Fahmy, said there was no evidence of premeditation in the killing. "For premeditation to be established a prior opportunity has to be present where the defendant would have to think, plan and consider his options," they said.

"In this case the court sees no evidence supporting that and the defendant is convicted of intentionally killing the victim without any premeditation." Last night the stepmother accused during the trial of having abused Rashidi as a child denied the allegation, telling The National she had always treated him as one of her own. The family also said they had lived in fear of him, and could not understand why he had twice been released early from prison after receiving sentences for two earlier sex attacks.

During the trial, the court was told that on the eve of the murder on November 27, al Rashidi had been drinking alcohol in Umm al Qaiwain. He continued drinking in a cemetery near his home in Al Qusais. The next morning, said prosecutors, he attended prayers at Bin Tahnoon mosque and afterwards loitered in the area. At about 10am, Moosa, his brother and a friend approached al Rashidi for an Eid gift and he told the four-year-old to follow him to the mosque to collect it.

It was in the grounds of the mosque, the court was told, that al Rashidi forced the boy into a toilet, where he first raped and then killed him, by smashing his head against the floor. Moosa's body was found about two hours later, when a worshipper entered the toilets to prepare for the Dhuhr prayer. Police swiftly rounded up all the registered sex offenders in the neighbourhood and within four hours had got a confession from al Rashidi.

During the trial, al Rashidi's lawyer said his client was a product of abuse during his own childhood, had left school at seven and by 14 had drifted into drug and alcohol abuse. Mohammed al Sa'adi suggested al Rashidi might be suffering from acute paranoia or a persecution complex. However, a psychiatric evaluation ordered by the court found he was aware of his actions. The case will now be fast-tracked to the Dubai Court of Appeals, where it is expected to be heard either next week or the week after.

If the sentence is upheld it will then be referred to the Dubai Court of Cassation, which will verify that correct legal procedures have been followed. amustafa@thenational.ae