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Court lenient on mother convicted of killing newborn

Defendant claims her baby was born dead while experts say the baby was breastfed

Gulf News

Dubai: An expatriate mother, who was charged with killing her newborn, was awarded what legal experts said the most lenient punishment by law on humanitarian grounds.

The court gave the woman a one-year prison term but decided to suspend the sentence.

The Dubai Court of First Instance found the 29-year-old Ethiopian mother, J.A., a housemaid, guilty of killing her baby by wrapping her in a cloth and putting her in a suitcase where she suffocated.

“She will be deported immediately as soon as her court order becomes irreversible,” said Presiding Judge Ali Atiyyah Sa’ad on Monday's ruling.

The mother, however, pleaded not guilty when she appeared in court in earlier sessions and claimed that she had given birth to a dead baby.

According to the primary judgment, which is subjected to appeal within 30 days: “The fact that the defendant was agonised and suffered from the illegitimate pregnancy and the deep sorrow that she showed during the hearing; the court has decided to treat her with utmost leniency [] based on compassionate grounds.”

The Family and Juveniles Prosecution accused J.A. of intentionally killing her baby by suffocating her when she wrapped her with the cloth and hid her inside a travel bag.

The baby girl was the result of an illegitimate sexual affair with a 35-year-old Indian driver, A.K.

The Dubai Misdemeanor Court had imprisoned the mother and partner for three months on a charge of having consensual sex.

A forensic examiner said the autopsy confirmed that the baby was breastfed before she died.

The baby girl’s body was discovered by the Emirati grandson of J.A.’s sponsor when he and his grandmother convinced J.A. to take a shower.

The 17-year-old grandson and his grandmother asked the housemaid to go to the washroom while they searched her bags.

The grandmother searched one bag and the 17-year-old was about to search the second bag when J.A. walked out of the bathroom. As soon as she spotted him opening the bag, she yelled at him in a very strange and hysterical way.

The grandson then insisted on opening the bag.

“When we asked her about what was hidden in the wrap, she claimed it’s a baby that she got from outside. When we discovered that the baby was dead, I immediately called the police,” said the grandson.

An Emirati policeman said J.A. admitted during questioning that her newborn was alive when she delivered her and cut the umbilical cord with a knife in her room.

“The baby died inside the bag,” said the policeman.

Monday’s judgment remains subject to appeal within 15 days.