x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Prisoner retracts sexual assault charge against fellow inmates

Judge told jail inmate filed his complaint under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs, despite medical evidence.

DUBAI // A prisoner at Central Jail yesterday dropped his claim of homosexual assault against seven fellow inmates, despite a medical report that the judge said proved he had been attacked. Appearing in court for the first time, AZ, a 32-year-old Syrian, told the judge he was under the influence of drugs when he lodged his allegations. He said what he had reported was untrue.

"I know these inmates and grew up with them," AZ told the Criminal Court of First Instance. "I had a problem with inmate JS at the jail mess hall and these guys came to sort it out." The seven inmates six Emiratis and a stateless person, all in their 20s had been charged with homosexually assaulting AZ in a cell. The defendants denied the charges when they appeared in court on November 16. Presiding Judge Hamad Abdel Latif questioned AZ about the medical report attached to the claim and said it proved he had been assaulted.

As the judge read aloud excerpts of the report, AZ was visibly distressed, his left leg shaking uncontrollably. The judge said: "Let the record show that the defendant started showing visible signs of discomfort." The medical report confirmed AZ had been beaten and had sexual intercourse some time before he filed his complaint. He told the court the evidence was from a different assault that happened at the Ajman Central Jail, where he was previously held.

One of the defendants, a 23-year-old Emirati, asked the court to put on record that he did not touch the victim, and AZ agreed. Since the alleged incident, AZ has been moved to an Abu Dhabi prison. The court adjourned the hearing to February 1 to hear more witness testimony. @Email:amustafa@thenational.ae