Dubai: An Emirati dad who killed his eight-year-old daughter in cold blood after torturing her with hot iron rods and stun guns has been sentenced to death.
Hamad Saud Al Sherawi, 29, will be executed by firing squad once the sentence is endorsed by the Dubai Ruler and becomes irrevocable. Sherawi’s girlfriend, Al Anoud, 27, has been jailed for life.
They were found guilty of torturing Wudeema and her seven-year-old sister Mira, who escaped death but suffered horrific burns and injuries.
Al Anoud collapsed when she heard the judgment and a policewoman had to step in to hold her baby boy born in custody.
Wednesday’s verdict, which is subject to appeal within 15 days, comes following a seven-month trial that captured the nation’s imagination and inspired a new child-protection legislation, known as Wudeema’s law.
Wudeema ate her own faeces after being starved and locked in a toilet at the couple’s International City apartment as punishment for being naughty on the night she died. Her decomposed body was found in an unmarked grave in the desert on May 30 last year.
During the trial, sordid details emerged of how the couple would whip the girls with electrical wires, pour boiling water on them and scald their bodies with iron rods and cigarettes. The torture instruments, including metal bars and stun guns, were later recovered by police from their home.
Hamad’s father Saud Juma, 52, said justice has been delivered. “I grieve for Wudeema, but they should be made an example and justice must be served. If I get to speak to my son, I will ask him to seek God’s forgiveness.”
Hamad’s elder brother Mohammad said he hopes Wudeema will forgive them. He said he found it strange that Al Anoud did not get the death penalty. “It’s odd because she admitted to all charges.”
Hamad’s mother Aida said: “When news of Wudeema’s death came out, I wanted death for my son and Al Anoud. But things change over time. Now all I can do is pray for his soul. This case has raised awareness. Child abuse will not be tolerated or go unnoticed anymore. It gives me hope that Wudeema’s death was not in vain. She has changed her community for the better.”
Earlier, Aida recalled how Wudeema begged her not to hand them back to Hamad after their mother, Salma, lost legal custody over them.
Before the girls left, Aida said she had advised her son: “I told him ‘they are your daughters, treat them with kindness.”