x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Mother of dead boy accused of negligence

The mother of a boy, 3, who died after falling from a window is charged with negligence after prosecutors say she lied about the events surrounding the child's death.

ABU DHABI // The mother of a three-year-old boy who died after falling from a 13th-floor window was charged with negligence yesterday after prosecutors said she lied about the circumstances surrounding the child's death. The mother, DS, an Emirati, claimed that she left the house after midnight to buy medicine for her three-year-old son. But prosecutors allege that the woman, who is divorced, left the house because she was having sex outside of wedlock with an Emirati man.

She has been charged with negligence leading to the death of her child, and also "justification of sin", a common charge when there is an allegation of a moral crime. The mother's Indonesian maid, NT, also faces a charge of negligence in the case. The man accused of being involved with the woman, TA, was also charged with having sex outside of wedlock but was not present in court yesterday. Justice Saeed Abdul Baseer, the chief justice of the Criminal Court, asked the maid whether the window in the child's room had been left open.

Through a translator, she said, "His mother asked me to put him in her room and leave the door open so the air can come in the room ... the window in the room was closed." But in the hallway of the home was another window, which had been left open, she said. Justice Abdul Baseer asked how high off the floor the window was. "It was high, but there was a chair and he could have climbed on the chair and reached the height of the window," the maid said.

She added that there was a gap between the chair and the window, but had not thought the child could crawl through it. "He was very smart. He knows not to play near the window," she said. She also told the court she was not present when the boy fell. Prosecutors submitted their case to the court last month with a signed confession from the mother pleading guilty to all the charges, but yesterday she told the judge she had been beaten into signing it. She told the court that her interrogators beat her on her knees and face.

"I signed because they told me they would kill me if I didn't confess," the mother said. Justice Abdul Baseer asked whether she had informed prosecutors and she said she had. When defendants claim to be beaten, the Public Prosecution is required by law to have them examined by forensic doctors of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department. The mother said she had not been examined, and the judge ordered an examination.

Abu Dhabi Police issued a statement saying "the case has been referred to the forensics, so we have no comment at this time". The fatal fall occurred about 1am on January 20 outside the family's apartment building on Sheikh Zayed the First Street near Khalidiya Mall. Col Maktoum Ali al Sherifi, the director of the Capital Police, said at the time that although a window in the flat had been left only slightly open, the gap was large enough for a small child to fit through.

According to a relative, the mother lived only with the nanny and the boy, her only child. The room he fell from contained only a television and simple furnishings, including a couch underneath the window. According to the Ministry of Interior, one child died and 35 suffered severe injuries inside their homes last year. Of them, 29 fell from windows or balconies, which led to one death and 28 severe injuries, including fractures, severe head wounds, comas and facial bleeding.

All the children involved were between two and six years old. In April 2009, a five-year-old Jordanian girl died in a fall after she tried to climb over her parents' 16th-floor balcony, landing on another balcony five floors below. Later that month, a four-year-old boy fell about 30 metres from his parents' third-floor flat, but survived with only cuts and bruises after landing on a car bonnet. The boy tumbled after climbing onto a chair beside the window.


myoussef@thenational.ae hhassan@thenational.ae