x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Teenager 'was blackmailed over phone pictures into relationship with man'

Girl, 17, feared scandal over 'compromising' photographs of her, court is told in consensual sex case.

ABU DHABI // A teenage girl agreed to sexual relations with a man who obtained "indecent" images of her because she feared retribution by her conservative family, a lawyer told a court yesterday.

"She is a young woman living in a conservative society that observes its moral principles," said Salwa al Habib, the lawyer for the girl. "She did not reveal the matter to her family for fear of a scandal or a family punishment."

MAS and another teenager, ASB, are charged with having consensual sex with the man, MM. Mrs al Habib said MM had blackmailed the girls into the relationships.

Threatening to spread MAS's photographs should be considered coercion because it "causes fear that compels one to commit an [unlawful] act", the lawyer argued.

MAS's two brothers, MoAS and AAS, face charges of assault against MM and damaging his property. MM was also charged with threatening and minor assault. All the defendants are Emirati and lived in Bani Yas.

Both MAS and the man were additionally accused of committing an immoral act by exchanging telephone calls and photographs, and staying alone in the man's car and farm without a lawful relationship.

MAS had classes in an institute in Bain al Jesrain, according to court documents, and was offered a ride by her female colleague, ASB, who introduced MAS to MM that day, telling her he was ASB's cousin. MAS later learnt about an unlawful relationship between the two and a year later, the man started to stalk MAS after his relationship ended with ASB, the lawyer said.

On October 24 last year, according to court records, the man tried to call MAS several times but she switched off her mobile phone. After she finished classes, she found him waiting outside. He asked her to drive to the seaside but she refused and headed towards Bani Yas.

He forced her to stop by tailgating and flashing his headlights at her car. He then jumped into her vehicle and had sex with her, according to records. It was disputed whether the act was consensual.

The lawyer said the man took her mobile phone after the incident and refused to give it back. At that point, MAS told her brothers, who worked for the military and police, Mrs al Habib said. They asked her to arrange a meeting so they could identify his vehicle and report him, the lawyer said. The men confronted MM after he met with their sister, Mrs al Habib said, and during a fight, MM's car was damaged.

MM pleaded not guilty to blackmail and sex charges. The women admitted that they had sexual contact with the man, but said that it was coerced.

Mrs al Habib said: "MAS has consistently denied the charges throughout the investigation levels, and said she was under huge psychological pressure from the defendant [MM], who constantly threatened he would broadcast the pictures he found on her mobile. She also tried to push him away but in vain."

Mrs al Habib asked the court to acquit MAS and her brothers.

MM's lawyer said the evidence against his client was scant, based on hearsay and there were discrepancies in the testimonies of the two female defendants and MAS's brothers. ASB did not have representation. The justices will issue a verdict on January 24.

hhassan@thenational.ae