Child killer is executed by firing squad

It began with a murder that shocked the nation. It ended at 8.35am yesterday, when a volley of rifle shots rang out and the murderer slumped lifeless in front of a firing squad as his young victim's family looked on.

UAE - Dubai - Feb 10- 2011: From R to L, the relatives of  four-year-old Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, Mother Jamala Andad holding her daughter, and the father Mukhtiar Ahmed Khudabaksh , praying in front of the media . Rashid al Rashidi, 30, was executed by firing squad for raping and killing four-year-old Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed in 2009. ( Jaime Puebla - The National Newspaper )

DUBAI // He had, as the prosecution put it during his trial, raped and murdered "an innocent angel in the house of God". At the end, as he faced the rifles of a firing squad, there was nothing left for Rashid al Rashidi but to beg for God's forgiveness.
On Wednesday night, after a final visit from his two brothers, the condemned man had little appetite for his last meal, which he barely touched. According to a senior prison official he slept fitfully and woke a few hours before dawn to face his executioners. There were no more visitors.
Al Rashidi showered and performed the ablution before praying. He decided not to eat anything; the food he had only picked at the night before would remain his last meal. "He was fasting when he died," said the official, "and only drank a glass of water before the Fajr prayer call."
As the streets of Dubai hummed with commuters making their way to work, police officers arrived at Dubai Central Jail in the Al Aweer district, where the 30-year-old former boat captain had been held alone in a cell since his first court appearance in 2009, when he had received death threats from other inmates.
Hooded, dressed in a black prison suit and with his arms tied behind his back, al Rashidi was driven the short distance to a nearby patch of land, normally used by police officers for shooting practice.
Though obviously terrified, witnesses say he remained quiet and did not faint, keeping to his feet as he was led to the spot where he was to be shot. There, he asked to be allowed to kneel in prayer one last time; his wish was granted before he was tied to a stake in front of the firing squad.
Exactly 440 days had passed since al Rashidi had shocked the nation by raping and murdering a four-year-old Pakistani boy, Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, in the toilets of a mosque in the quiet Al Qusais 3 district of Dubai, where his family had lived for three decades.
There had been a terrible resonance in the timing of the crime, carried out at the end of the 2009 holiday of Eid al Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice.
A month after the killing, al Rashidi's own lawyer pulled out of the case, condemning his client as an "embarrassment to humanity". His replacement told the court that al Rashidi, born in Bahrain to a mother who died in childbirth, had been abused physically and mentally by his Indian stepmother. His crime, he said, "cannot have been the result of a sane person's actions", but nevertheless he agreed to take him on as a client on the condition that he pleaded guilty.
Yesterday at about 8.30am, with all appeal processes exhausted, al Rashidi faced a nine-man firing squad under the command of Dubai's Attorney General, Essam al Humaidan, whose duty it was to give the order to carry out the sentence of death. At least one of the men was holding a rifle loaded with a blank shot - the so-called "conscience round", designed to prevent any member of a firing squad knowing for sure that he has fired the fatal bullet.
Perhaps equally daunting for al Rashidi as the firing squad, however, was the presence of his victim's family.
Moosa's father, Mukhtiar Ahmed Khudabaksh, had repeatedly pleaded with the authorities to be allowed to witness the execution. It was not certain until the last day that his wish would be granted but yesterday morning the police sent a car to collect him, Moosa's mother Jamala Imdad and two of the murdered boy's uncles.
As the firing squad made ready, Dr Ahmed al Haddad, Dubai's Grand Mufti, asked al Rashidi if he had anything to say. According to a prison official, he replied: "I want God to forgive me for what I have done."
He then asked the mufti to tell the family he was sorry. But there would be no last-minute forgiveness from Moosa's relatives.
In December 2009, a month after the killing, Moosa's father had said that his son's killer "should get a punishment worse than death . I appeal to the police that they should give such a punishment to this man that it sets an example". Yesterday morning, it was clear that the 14 months that had passed since then had neither eased his grief nor lessened his determination that his son's killer should pay the ultimate price.
"I will never forgive him," Mr Ahmed told the mufti.
Throughout the emotional ordeal, his wife's lips could be seen moving as, almost inaudibly, she praised God and recited verses from the Quran.
As required by law, the attorney general then read aloud the charges and the verdict against the condemned man and, a moment before the order to open fire was given, al Rashidi uttered his last words: "I witness that there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger."
The volley rang out at 8.35am and al Rashidi slumped forward, apparently lifeless. Moosa's father was allowed close to the body to see for himself that justice had been done and then a doctor stepped forward to confirm that al Rashidi was dead. It was 8.37am.
"Now," said Mr Ahmed, "my heart is at ease."
The path to the firing squad
November 27, 2009: Rashid al Rashidi, 30, lures Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, four, into a mosque toilet, rapes him and kills him.
November 28, 2009: Al Rashidi is arrested after fingerprints from the crime scene are matched to him.
December 8, 2009: Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for al Rashidi if he is convicted.
December 2009: Hamed al Khazraji, a court-appointed attorney, refuses to represent al Rashidi.
January 2010: Abdullah al Midrib and his father, Abdel Rahman al Midrib, appointed to represent him.
February 14, 2010: Mohammed al Saadi takes over the defence.
January 29, 2010: Al Rashidi is found guilty in the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance and sentenced to death.
April 1, 2010: The Court of Appeal upholds the conviction and sentence.
June 7, 2010: Al Rashidi loses his last appeal at the Court of Cassation
February 10, 2011: Al Rashidi is executed by firing squad.