A drama teacher who was convicted of sexually assaulting a child in Dubai has been acquitted after a prosecution witness retracted his testimony.
The man, 56, in a previous hearing was sentenced to six months in prison and deportation over the attack on an Emirati girl, 10, at a studio in Dubai where she was taking lessons.
He denied the charge, telling police it was a malicious claim by the mother of the child.
On Monday, the Dubai Court of Appeal overturned its conviction and acquitted him.
The judgment was reversed after a witness who told investigators he saw the girl sitting on the man's lap changed his statement.
“I said that I saw the child in the instructor’s lap, which didn’t happen. I was coerced by the child’s family to say so,” the witness said in court last week.
“They told me they knew people in power and will get me deported,” he said.
“But when I heard of the sentencing against him [the defendant] I felt like I had destroyed the family’s life and therefore came to tell the truth.”
The man's other colleagues who were questioned at the time said the alleged incident did not occur and that the child had not attended class on the day in question, December 2, 2020.
The teacher’s lawyer, Awatif Mohammed from Al Rowaad Advocates, told judges that her client was being framed by the child’s mother because he rejected her advances.
The lawyer provided the court with copies of provocative pictures of the child’s mother which the woman had allegedly sent to the teacher.
Claims of inconsistent evidence
Ms Mohammed said prosecutors accused her client of taking the girl to a soundproof room, locking the door, then touching her inappropriately.
“All witnesses at the time testified the girl didn’t come to the studio that day and said my client was a decent man,” she said in court.
The girl stopped attending classes in the studio in November 2020, one month before the alleged incident, she said.
Ms Mohammed also said the testimonies of the child’s parents were inconsistent and the case was reported more than three months after it allegedly happened.
Judges were additionally provided with a forensic psychoanalysis report which stated that the child narrated the events in an order and used terms that did not reflect her young age.
The report concluded that no indications have been found to prove the child was subjected to sexual abuse.