x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

School bus assault accused acquitted again in appeal

The Dubai Court of Appeal finds three bus workers not guilty of assaulting a four-year-old pupil after ruling there was no forensic evidence to support the charges and seeing GPS records contradicting prosecutors' theory.

DUBAI // Three men accused of sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl on her school bus last year were acquitted for a second time this morning by the Court of Appeal.

The men had denied the charges in their appeal and in the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance, which acquitted them in April.

Prosecutors had said JT, 43; MP, 44; and FS, 38, all Indians, who worked as a school bus driver and attendants, sexually assaulted the girl on November 11, 2010, after dropping off all of the other students.

But the court found that there was no forensic evidence to support an assault, and that FS was not even on the bus at the time of the alleged incident.

The court also heard defence evidence that GPS records showed the bus was not in the area where the alleged attack was supposed to have taken place, and that there was not been enough time for the attack to have happened.

Ahmed al Attar of Bur Dubai Prosecution told the court in March that the men should receive the harshest possible punishment because of the severity of their actions.

Prosecutors said the bus workers called the girl's mother and told her not to worry if the bus was late, because there were traffic jams.

Prosecutors said the girl, also Indian, was taken to an empty car park where MP, the bus attendant, approached her and sat her on his lap. They said MP spoke to her and comforted her, then lifted her skirt and touched her inappropriately.

Prosecutors said the child started to cry, but JT and FS assaulted her.

The parents reported the incident to police nearly two months after it allegedly occurred. SK, the girl's father, testified that she reacted in fear around him, which led them to send her to a doctor to see what was wrong.

He said doctors confirmed the girl had been molested.

At that point, SK said, the girl described to her mother what the men had done to her.

salamir@thenational.ae