Imam acquitted of sexual assault charges

The Dubai Court of Appeal acquitted a mosque imam convicted for sexually assaulting his eight-year-old Quran student. (FILE)

The Dubai Court of Appeal acquitted a mosque imam convicted for sexually assaulting an eight-year-old boy he used to teach the Holy Quran.

ZH, 26, Indian, was awarded a three-year jail term followed by deportation by the First Instance Court for sexually assaulting the American boy of Pakistani origin by hugging him from behind and kissing him on his forehead on December 18, 2009.

According to the prosecution’s charge sheet, the boy’s father MS, owner of a cargo company, had hired ZH to teach his son the Quran for a fee of Dh600 per month.

MS, who received a call from his son while he was in the US complaining that he was assaulted by his teacher, asked his two sons to stop attending Quran classes. The father claimed that ZH took advantage of him being outside the UAE to assault his son and that the boy’s brother took a picture of his reddish cheek.

In the previous hearing defence lawyer Haroon Tahlak suspected the authenticity, accuracy and legal cohesiveness of the police and public prosecution investigations and charge sheet asking for the accused’s acquittal as a primary request.

As a secondary request, the lawyers asked the court to hear the testimonies of the boy’s mother who was directly dealing with the teacher and dropped and picked up her sons every day for classes. The mother was never asked by the police and the prosecution.

The secondary request also included hearing the testimony of the policemen who investigated ZH, and to check the behaviour of both the father and son.

Tahlak told the jury that the accusation was made up against ZH firstly by the boy who did not want to attend Quran classes and secondly by the father who did not want his son to learn the Quran. It was the mother’s will that her son should learn the Quran, the boy did not show normal behaviour by telling his mother about being subjected to sexual assault and rather sought his father’s support despite the fact that the later was overseas, he argued.

The police and prosecution later did not obtain the mother’s testimony who was supposed to have noticed any abnormal behaviour of her son following the claimed assault or noticed some marks on his body.

The boy and his brother continued attending classes from 5am to 11pm following the claimed assault. They did not tell their mother but claimed a second assault incident in the imam’s room in the same teaching centre, Tahlak told the jury.
Suspecting the authenticity of the father’s testimony, Tahlak told the court that the father, who cut short his trip to the US following a phone call from his son informing that he was subjected to sexual assault, did not ask police for a forensic check on the boy’s body.

Besides, the father’s testimony contradicted when he said his other son saw the imam hugging the boy from behind and kissing his cheek to the extent that it got reddish so he took a picture as proof. The father then changed his testimony by saying his other son got shy to the extent that he could not raise his head to look at the scene.

The police and prosecution did not obtain the other boy’s testimony, said the lawyer although the father claimed that he had evidence and despite the fact that he accompanied his brother to the Quran classes.

The eight policemen who investigated the accused beat him up to obtain a confession. Bruises and scratches were reported in a forensic report of Dubai Police after the accused complained against the assault he was subjected to during investigations, said the defence lawyer.

Tahlak asked the court to check the business relations between the father and the officer on duty who had included the physical assault details that were not in the first day’s investigation that only had kissing the boy on his cheek, which the accused admitted that he encourages his students by such a gesture.

Tahlak argued that the accused has many students and none had complained about his behaviour. On the contrary, the 62-year-old father of one of the students testified about the good behaviour of the accused.

“You honour, you may convict my client should my defence proved incorrect,” said Tahlak concluding his defence.

The judge of the Appeal Court acquitted ZH of sexual assault charges on Sunday.

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