MOURNING: Wadeema's grandmother Aida, grandfather Saud and their sons Mohammad and Hamed talking to XPRESS in June. Image Credit: VIRENDRA SAKLANI/XPRESS

DUBAI A court-appointed lawyer for a pregnant woman accused of abusing her boyfriend’s two young daughters for several months — torturing one of them to death — called for his client to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Hamdy Al Shiwie, who appeared on behalf of Al Anoud A., 27, at the Dubai Criminal Court, asked the judge for more time so he could read the voluminous case file and so that his client could have a psychiatric test done.

Al Anoud A. and Hamad S., 27, were brought in their prison suits to the packed court chamber No. 1B7 at the hearing attended by family members, lawyers and journalists in a case that has shocked the nation.

The pair faces charges of brutally torturing eight-year-old Wadeema and seven-year-old Mira, with hot iron, electric shocks and boiling water for several months. Mira survived, but Wadeema did not.

After police brought Hamad from a Fujairah Police station, where he was earlier jailed for another offence in June, he led investigators to Wadeema’s remains burried in a remote desert village near Sharjah.

The pair could face the firing squad if convicted.

“A huge case file was given to me 24 hours before the hearing,” Al Shiwie told XPRESS. “I asked the judge to give me more time to read the entire file.”

Al Shiwie hinted that mental incapacity of the defendants would be the line of defence he would be taking. “I would treat this case like any other. I believe they are both mentally fit. But it is also possible that they are not. So I have asked for a qualified government psychiatrist to check the mental fitness of my client,” said Al Shiwie.

Earlier in court, Hamad, flanked by three police officers, clasped his hands, occasionally lifting his head to look at the bench. Hamad’s eldest brother Mohammad, 29, who is the main complainant, also attended Wednesday’s hearing.

No witnesses testified on Wednesday.

Hamad claimed his innocence during the July 4 hearing, but admitted burying his daughter’s body in the desert. Hamad also told the judge that the stun gun police found inside their flat at International City was broken.

Al Anoud told the court on June 4 that she alone abused the girls. “I beat [the children] and burnt them, [Hamad] did not do anything.”

Judge Meher Salama Al Oufi told XPRESS: “The court asked the prosecution to take the two accused for a mental health check at Rashid Hospital to determine whether they knew what they were doing during the act of torturing Wadeema and her sister.”

Salma, the mother of the girls and former best friend of Al Anoud, wailed as she stormed out of court following Wednesday’s hearing, cursing both the suspects to “burn in hell.”

Al Anoud earlier told investigators that that Salma had encouraged her to torture the girls so that they could get rid of Hamad.

Hamad, however, told police during interrogation that he had beaten Wadeema more than Mira to exorcise “jinn”, or supernatural spirits, from her body. Mira is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a government facility.

Presiding judge Al Oufi has set the next hearing on July 25.