Lawyer says boy's killer is not sane

A court orders a dhow boat captain who has admitted killing a four-year-old boy in a mosque to be psychologically evaluated.

DUBAI // The court that will sentence the dhow boat captain who has pleaded guilty to killing a four-year-old boy in a mosque ordered yesterday that the defendant first be psychologically evaluated. The presiding judge, Fahmy Mounir Fahmy, granted a request by the defence lawyer that R R be examined after the lawyer spoke of the defendant's particularly harsh childhood in which he was abused physically and mentally.

Security around RR, 30, who has admitted to sexually assaulting and killing Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed on November 27, was tighter than in previous hearings, with 10 officers surrounding his cage at all times. Prosecutors, meanwhile, explained why they had charged the defendant with premeditated murder in light of an earlier session in which they had conceded, in response to a question by the court, that RR had not confessed specifically to intentionally killing the boy. Yesterday, the prosecutors elaborated on the details of the crime to justify the charge of premeditation.

"On the day where the pilgrims celebrate their pilgrimage and Muslims extol in the festivities, this decadent killer broke all the moral and religious rules of humanity," said the chief prosecutor, Yousef Foulaz. "He premeditatedly raped and killed an innocent angel in the house of God." He added: "The defendant consumed liquor on the eve of Eid with his friends, left the party and went into a graveyard to consume more liquor into the early hours of the morning and then tricked the child into following him to the house of God and raped the young boy."

Prosecutors again urged that RR be sentenced to death, but his defence lawyer, Mohammed al Sa'adi, countered by asking for the psychological examination. "The defendant pleaded guilty and closed all his doors for a defence," said Mr al Sa'adi, who last month agreed to defend R R only on condition that he so plead after another court-appointed defence team refused to continue with the case. "But before we judge him we have to take into account his mental health. How can any person commit such an inhuman crime with a sane mind?"

Mr al Sa'adi said his client might suffer from acute paranoia or even a condition known as persecution mania or persecution complex, which is characterised by an irrational fear that other people are plotting one's downfall. "The circumstances of this crime, happening in the house of God, happening on the morning of a religious holiday and happening against a four-year-old child - all these incidences cannot be the result of a sane person's actions, or at least they should have us question his sanity," he said. Mr al Sa'adi said he had spoken extensively with the defendant and had heard his life story. He said RR's mother had died while giving birth to him in Bahrain and that his father settled in the UAE a year later and soon afterwards married an Indian woman.

"The Indian stepmother abused him extensively, physically and mentally," Mr al Sa'adi said. "If a glass broke he would be to blame. If anything was wrong he was assaulted and hit by her and his father." He said that RR had dropped out of school after second grade, that his father died when he was 14 and that he had a long criminal record. "He sniffed glue, smoked and drank alcohol from a young age, possibly as young as 10," the lawyer told the court. "He joined the army at 14 and was dishonourably discharged at 17 because of his misguidance. He hated his stepmother and hated everyone else because of her. He became introverted and distant from society until he became a seaman. He met bad company who taught him the path to drugs, nightlife and evil."

The defence lawyer had one more point to make about his client's stability, stemming from the police investigation. "The testimony of Lt Saif al Shihi to public prosecutors during the investigations claimed that the defendant was smiling and indifferent when he was stating his testimony," Mr al Sa'adi noted. "When a defendant is confessing and presenting the details of such a crime to investigators in this manner, it leads to doubts about his mental health."

The Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance will reconvene on January 10 to hear the result of the psychological evaluation.