x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Men cleared of attacking girl on bus face appeal

Three men again plead not guilty to sex assault charges.

DUBAI // Three men acquitted of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl on her school bus last year have denied the charges again before the Court of Appeal.

Prosecutors said the Indians - JT, 43; MP, 44; and FS, 38 - who worked as a school bus driver and attendants, sexually assaulted the girl on November 11 last year after dropping off all of the other students.

The men were cleared by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance on April 6.

The court found there was no forensic evidence to support an assault, and that FS was not even on the bus at the time it was alleged to have happened.

The court had also heard defence evidence that GPS records showed the bus was not in the area where the alleged attack was supposed to have taken place, and there had not been enough time for the attack to have happened.

The prosecution appealed. Ahmed al Attar of Bur Dubai Prosecution told the court last March that the men should receive the harshest possible punishment because of the severity of their actions.

The appeal claimed the bus workers called the girl's mother and told her not to worry if the bus was late as there were traffic jams.

Prosecutors said the young girl, also Indian, was taken to an empty car park where MP, the bus attendant, approached her and sat her on his lap.

MP allegedly spoke to her and comforted her, then lifted her skirt and touched her inappropriately.

Prosecutors said the child started to cry but JT and FS assaulted her.

The parents reported the incident to police nearly two months after it allegedly occurred.

SK, the girl's father, testified that she reacted in fear around him, which led them to send her to a doctor to see what was wrong.

He said the doctors confirmed the girl had been molested.

At that point, SK claimed, the girl described to her mother what the men had done to her.

A verdict is scheduled to be handed down next Sunday.

salamir@thenational.ae