x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Father urges punishment 'worse than death' for killer of his four-year-old son

The father of a four-year-old boy killed in a mosque says he hopes for a punishment 'worse than death' for the killer.

Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, aged four, was found dead in the bathroom of a mosque
Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, aged four, was found dead in the bathroom of a mosque

DUBAI // The father of a four-year-old boy killed in a mosque said yesterday he hoped for a punishment "worse than death" for the killer. The body of Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed was removed from the bathroom of the mosque in the Al Qusais area of Dubai on Friday, the family confirmed yesterday. Dubai Police told them that the boy had been murdered and that a suspect was in custody. "The cruel murderer should get a punishment worse than death," said Mukhtiar Ahmed Khudabaksh, Moosa's father. "I appeal to the police that they should give such a punishment to this man that it sets an example."

Moosa's large Pakistani family has lived in a villa in the quiet neighbourhood of Al Qusais 3 for several decades. Mr Khudabaksh said he and his brothers were born and raised in the UAE. Members of the close-knit family appeared to be in a state of shock as they gathered to console one another yesterday. Mr Khudabaksh, moist-eyed and emotional, spoke about the moments he spent with his son just before the child was found dead.

"Around 10.50am [on Friday], my son was sitting right beside me," he said. "He was very happy because it was Eid and was eating cheese crackers." Moosa then ran out of the house to the street, his father said. Close to noon, police vehicles cordoned off a mosque just yards away from the family's home. Residents started talking about the body of a child being found in the bathroom of the mosque. Hamid Ali, the boy's uncle, who lives in the same house, described seeing a child's body being removed from the bathroom. The boy's face was covered.

"I did not imagine that it would be our child. I panicked and called the family to check if the children in our home were safe," Mr Ali said. It was soon discovered that Moosa could not be found. "Moosa was missing and my heart sank," Mr Khudabaksh said. He hoped that Moosa was in the home of one of the neighbours, whom the boy often visited. But soon police called the family to Rashid Hospital to identify a body.

"It was only in Rashid Hospital that we finally saw the body and identified it," Mr Ali said. Family members said they had no idea that their son had died violently until the police informed them. The family had assumed that the boy slipped in the bathroom of the mosque and died of head injuries. "We got a call on Saturday from the police, who said they have caught a man and that my son was murdered," Mr Khudabaksh said.

Family members said they had few details about the investigation or what exactly had happened to Moosa. "The police told me that my son was murdered. They said they have caught a man who has confessed to the killing," Mr Khudabaksh said. He said he knew little about the suspect. "I have not seen him and I don't know where he is from. I am also waiting to hear more about what happened," he said. Safdarbaksh Wahedbaksh, another uncle, said: "The boy had bruises on his head and his neck. We were curious how this happened."

A police source said the deputy chief of police, Khamis al Maziena, was leading the investigation. Mr al Maziena could not be reached for comment yesterday. Meanwhile, the family remained numbed by grief. Moosa's seven-year-old brother Mustafa has suffered from a fever since the incident. "My children are scared to go out, to go to the masjid. They fear that someone will kill them," said the weeping father. He had two boys and a girl.

"All the children here are scared. Such a thing has never happened in this area but this has changed everything. We will all be relieved only after this cruel man is punished," Mr Khudabaksh said. "This is our home. We lived here all our lives and never had any fear before," he said. pmenon@thenational.ae