ABU DHABI // A father who whipped his 12-year-old son to death with electrical cord because his school grades were low has been sentenced to three years in jail.
R M, an Emirati, said he was angry because his son had hidden his grades. “He was not raised to be this way,” he told the Criminal Court court.
He grabbed the boy, who was sleeping beside his mother, and whipped him with an electrical cord until he passed out.
The next day a maid found the boy unconscious on the bedroom floor, naked and covered in blood, and called an ambulance. The child died before arriving at hospital.
The court rejected the former drug addict’s claim that he had mistakenly killed the child, meaning only to discipline him.
The father was charged with “beating that leads to death”, but this was later changed to premeditated murder.
“The defendant continued to beat the victim until he died,” explained the judge as he announced the guilty verdict.
Had the man been convicted of “beating that leads to death”, he would have faced a sentence ranging from a minimum of five years to life imprisonment.
Most premeditated murder cases carry a sentence of either death or three years in prison, depending on whether the victim’s family choose to seek vengeance or not.
However, in this case the court could not have passed a death sentence even if the relatives had requested it.
This is because according to the Maliki school of Fiqh, which the UAE adheres to, no parent may be killed in vengeance for the death of his (or her) son or daughter.
In this case, had the victim’s family requested the death sentence then the court would have been given the discretion of setting a jail term longer than three years.
“If the blood relatives had asked for vengeance [a death sentence] the judge decides what other sentence, usually jail, should be given to the defendant instead,” said lawyer Ali Al Abbadi.
“The law does not specify what should be issued in that case.”
Because the child's heirs chose not to seek the death penalty, the maximum sentence the court could pass was three years in jail and blood money of Dh200,000.
The heirs were split on the issue of blood money, with only the paternal grandparents waiving their right in this regard.
“The blood money will be divided between the heirs. The paternal grandparents’ share will be deducted because they pardoned him from it,” ruled the judge.
During the man’s trial the boy’s mother and grandfather said they accepted the father’s claim that he did not mean to kill the boy, only discipline him.
Jail terms longer than three years can also be passed in cases where there are no contactable blood relatives to consult.
In a recent case a woman convicted of strangling her newborn baby with her underwear was the victim’s only heir. She was sentenced to life in prison in lieu of a death sentence.
However, the verdict was later commuted to three years on appeal.