Labourer appeals against jail term after assault on doctor

A Syrian labourer convicted of sexually assaulting a Lebanese doctor had his first appeal hearing yesterday.

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ABU DHABI // A Syrian labourer convicted of sexually assaulting a Lebanese doctor had his first appeal hearing yesterday. MA was found guilty by the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance of attempted rape and theft. He was sentenced on August 26 to three years in prison followed by deportation. He presented yesterday a written defence to the presiding judge. However, the grounds of his appeal were not clear.

The woman said that on June 13, the 24-year-old labourer came to her apartment and told her he had a bag to deliver to her brother. She told him her brother was not in the country, and asked him to write down his name and phone number. She then locked the door after he started pestering her about her brother's full name, the lower court heard, but he forced it open. He then put his hands over her mouth, before throwing her to the ground and jumping on top of her. "He then dragged me to the kitchen and threatened me with a knife," she told police.

He told her to take her clothes off but she refused. He took her clothes off himself and asked her if she was virgin, she said. He stopped after she resisted and told him her father would come at any moment. The man took her to her room and stole Dh150 and more than Dh400 in Lebanese lira before fleeing. The woman claimed she had not seen the man before but he said they had met in a supermarket in Abu Dhabi, where she gave him her address and phone number.

"She called me more than once and I called her the same day the incident happened at 2am," MA told police. "She asked me to come to her apartment to know the directions before going back again at 9pm." She told him the apartment was in her brother's name, MA told police, and that her father would be in the mosque for night prayers. The building's watchman said he was called upstairs after a tenant complained that someone was knocking on their apartment doors.

MA told police he had confused two apartments on the same floor. MA then asked the watchman about the apartment of the victim's brother, the watchman told police. The watchman left after the labourer and the doctor spoke for three minutes. The watchman, who did not speak good Arabic, added that nothing about the conversation had given him cause for suspicion. MA was arrested two days later and has been in prison since. The case was adjourned to September 27, when a verdict is expected.