x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Life sentence upheld for UAE torture dad

Father who murdered his daughter Wadeema in a case which shocked the UAE has lost his appeal against a life sentence at the Cassation Court today.

DUBAI // A father who tortured and killed his eight-year-old daughter Wadeema in a case that shocked the nation has lost his appeal against a life sentence.

The Cassation Court yesterday upheld life terms for the girl's father, Hamad Al Shirawee, 29, and his girlfriend Alanoud Al Amri, 27.

The ruling is final because the pair have exhausted the appeals process.

"I don't know what to say, but thank God for everything," Wadeema's mother said after the verdict.

At their first trial at the Dubai Criminal Court, the father was sentenced to death, while the girlfriend was handed a life sentence. The Appeals Court commuted the father's sentence to life in jail but upheld the girlfriend's sentence.

Last Monday, Al Shirawee appeared in court and asked for a week to prepare his defence. He submitted his written arguments to court yesterday morning.

An hour later, the court issued its verdict upholding the life terms for him and his girlfriend.

Under Sharia, parents cannot be sentenced to death for murdering their own children.

Wadeema's father and his girlfriend had tortured the girl and her sister Mira, 7, with irons and cigarettes, and poured boiling water on them. They also beat the girls with sticks and electrical cords, and used a stun gun on them.

Wadeema died from her injuries in May last year and was buried in the desert in Sharjah.

Her death prompted landmark child protection legislation known as Wadeema's Law, aimed at giving power to the Government to remove children from their parents in extreme cases where abuse is believed to be occurring.

During the trial Al Amri, a former neighbour of Wadeema, gave birth to a boy. The child stayed in custody with his mother and appeared in court several times.

Under UAE law, imprisoned mothers keep custody of their children until they are two years old. In cases such as this, where the mother is an Emirati, the child is then passed to a family member for care.

Ahmed Al Kubaisi, an imam, explained why parents cannot be sentenced to death for killing their children.

"Most commonly, parents who are the reasons behind the existence of their children are merciful to their offspring and would rather die a million times than to see their own children get hurt in any way," Mr Al Kubaisi said.

"Because of this, there is the rule which stipulates parents should not be executed for the murder of their own children.

"There are parents who would kill their own children, but these parents are exceptions and their existence cannot change the rule.

"When a father kills one of his children, there has to be something wrong with his head. Such a father deserves to be executed a million times, but he is the exception."