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Woman who starved maid to death wins appeal

Appeal Court reduced defendant’s seven-year jail term to three years

Gulf News

Dubai: A 61-year-old woman who was convicted of beating and starving her maid to death won her appeal and her seven-year jail sentence was reduced to three years.

The Emirati woman had locked her Indonesian maid up in her villa and repeatedly assaulted her and left her without food until she died in September last year. In December, the Dubai Court of First Instance found the Emirati defendant liable for the victim’s death and jailed her for seven years.

The accused woman appealed the primary judgement and pleaded not guilty before the Dubai Appeal Court.

Prosecutors had also appealed the seven-year jail sentence and asked the appellate court to stiffen the punishment.

Citing grounds of leniency, presiding judge Saeed Salem Bin Sarm rejected prosecutors’ appeal and accepted that of the defendant’s and reduced the seven years to three years in jail.

The accused locked the windows and doors of her villa to prevent the maid from running away.

Dubai Police’s forensic examiners confirmed that the victim died of malnourishment.

The defendant’s lawyers argued before the appellate court that the forensic examination report was full of contradictions.

They defended that Dubai Police’s forensic examiner failed to carry out a proper examination and that the report was full of contradictions and discrepancies.

The forensic report mentioned that the victim’s bruises and injuries were not the cause of death, said the lawyers.

“How could have she have died of starvation while the examiner mentioned that the maid had food in her stomach? That means she used to eat and had not been starved or left unfed. The examiner said the maid had two ulcers in her stomach, which affected her appetite, and she refused to eat. She is the one who was not eating although my client had food left in the kitchen and over the stove. She didn’t starve her. The suspect also did not deprive the victim of her freedom … the fences and wires with which she had surrounded her villa were used for protection from any external danger. My client lived in the villa alone with the victim and had fixed those wire fences and wires to protect her villa but not to prevent her from going out. Actually she had obtained a travel pass for the maid to take her with her abroad just a few days before the death,” contended one of the lawyers.

The other lawyer defended that prosecutors said starvation was the cause of death, based on the examiner’s report.

“The forensic examiner only carried out a physical examination … meanwhile a microscopic examination could have given a definite reason for the cause of death. The report is full of contradictions and several technical issues,” he argued.

A police lieutenant testified that Dubai Police’s Operation Room was notified about a maid’s death last year.

“A police team was dispatched to the villa … the maid was fully dressed and had her veil on her head as well. She was on the floor despite the fact that there was a bed in the room. The room was tidy and neat. The defendant said the victim had fallen down and said she did not do anything wrong. We discovered that the refrigerator and all the cupboards in the kitchen were locked. When asked why she had kept the keys with her, the defendant said it was her food and she was free to do what she wanted. Upon opening the locked drawers and refrigerator, we discovered that the food had expired and inedible. When we checked on the suspect’s police records, we discovered that she had a criminal record of assaulting maids. Police records contained a special report, issued by the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs, that highly recommended that the defendant be banned from sponsoring more maids because she frequently mistreated them,” said the lieutenant.

The appellate verdict remains subject to appeal before the Cassation Court within 27 days.

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