x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Torture dad has UAE death sentence reduced to life in prison

Father who tortured and killed his eight-year-old daughter Wadeema has his death sentence reduced to life imprisonment by the Appeals Court.

DUBAI // The father who tortured and killed his eight-year-old daughter, Wadeema, had his death sentence reduced to life in prison by the Appeals Court yesterday.

The court’s judging panel, headed by Eisa Al Sherif, failed to reach a consensus on whether to uphold the death penalty handed down by the Criminal Court and was therefore obliged to reduce it to a custodial term.

The court upheld the life term given to the man’s girlfriend by the lower court.

All death sentences handed down by the Criminal Court must be scrutinised by the Appeals Court and the Cassation Court before going to the Ruler for final approval.

As the father’s sentence has been commuted to life in prison, the case will only be heard by the Cassation Court if either the prosecution or one of the defendants demands a further appeal.

There is a 30-day window for making such a demand. Yesterday, the prosecution said it was still deciding. “This case shocked Emirati society,” noted the family and juvenile prosecutor, Shihab Ahmed.

Neither the father, H?S, 29, nor his girlfriend A?M, 27, both Emiratis, were present in court yesterday.

The lawyer, Hamdi Al Sheewi, who was appointed by the Appeals Court to defend the father, said his role ended when the court issued its verdict and that he had not been informed of whether the father would choose to appeal the verdict.

He suggested the father could seek a more lenient punishment by arguing that the Appeals Court verdict contradicted law number 344 from the UAE Penal Code.

Under the article, those convicted of confining a person against their will and causing their death through such confinement can be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

But Mr Al Sheewi said the father could claim this should not apply to his case.

“This article is only applicable if the person is also cut off from their means for living – ie water and food. This did not happen in this case, as the girl had access to water in the bathroom,” said Mr Al Sheewi.

Wadeema’s father was drunk and high on Tramadol on the night of her death. After beating the girl severely for an hour he locked her in the bathroom, returning the next day to find her dead.

The beating was one of many suffered by the girl. The father and his girlfriend had regularly tortured Wadeema and her sister Mira, 7, by burning them with irons and cigarettes, pouring boiling water over them and beating them with metal bars. The girls were also whipped with electrical cords.

Wadeema died and was buried in the desert, but Mira survived.

The two girls had been living with their father and his girlfriend in a studio apartment in International City following the divorce of their parents in 2006 after a four-year marriage.

The flat was described by police as unfit for human habitation.

At one point in the trial the girlfriend confessed to all charges and claimed full responsibility. She said the father had done nothing to the girls and even requested that she be given a sentence of death.

While in jail the girlfriend gave birth to a baby boy.

Shortly before the Criminal Court issued its verdict the father withdrew his confession and said that he made it only to protect his newborn child.

“I confessed to all the charges because I didn’t want my girlfriend to be in prison and my son to be brought up there. I wanted to sacrifice myself for my son to be raised outside prison. I love my children,” he said.

The story of the two young girls hastened child-protection legislation that was named subsequently as Wadeema’s Law.

The legislation, which is in its final stages, will give new child-protection specialists the power to remove children from their homes if they are believed to be in imminent danger.

It also stipulates that adults approached by an abused child will have a duty to alert authorities or face fines of Dh5,000 to Dh50,000.

wissa@thenational.ae