x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Janitor appeals against death sentence for raping pupil in Abu Dhabi school

The teachers argued that the Indian man had never posed a threat to schoolchildren in the 30 years he worked at the school.

ABU DHABI // Teachers have defended the character of a school janitor who is facing the death penalty for raping a seven-year-old pupil.

At the appeals court of Sunday, four colleagues of Indian I K, 56, said they thought it was impossible for him to have sexually assaulted the Emirati girl in the school’s kitchens in April last year.

The teachers said they had known I K for years and he had never posed a threat to children before.

They also said as the attack occurred during school hours, the kitchens would have been frequented by staff during this time.

The lawyer representing the victim, however, argued that their statements should have no influence on the verdict.

“They did not deny it occurred, they just stated their personal opinions that it was impossible to believe,” he said.

“When I live near a person who is smiling everyday I do not know what he does in secret. Witnessing a person’s kindness for years does not disprove the incident.”

He argued that everyone associated with the case wished it had never happened “but the truth is stronger than hopes and dreams.”

“This defendant confessed to prosecutors that he hugged, kissed and touched the girl,” he said. “When asked why, he said because he loved her.

“He gave an incomplete confession thinking that would rescue him from punishment.”

The lawyer also argued that the school violated numerous safety regulations by sending the girl with a pile of papers alone to the administration building.

“The school fired its principal right after, which means the incident did occur or why else would they take such a strict measure?” he said.

As for witnesses’ arguments that the kitchen was entirely visible to staff, the lawyer said that as the area was walled off, unless someone was standing in front of the glass door, the attack could have still had occurred.

“I K has been working at the school for 30 years he obviously know when there is no one around,” he said.

The defence attorney said forensic evidence contradicted this because none of the defendant’s DNA was found on the victim.

“When these results came out, all of his colleagues were tested and none proved to have any connection with the victim.”

A verdict will be announced on March 23.

hdajani@thenational.ae