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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Qatar court sentences expat to jail time in child molestation case

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Lower criminal court in Doha
Lower criminal court in Doha

Update on July 8, 2015: Qatar’s Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s guilty verdict earlier this week. However, it suspended the one-year prison term. This means the man will not spend any time in jail if he abides by the court’s conditions. He still faces deportation to his native New Zealand.

A New Zealand man living in Qatar has been handed a one-year prison term after being found guilty in a case involving the sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl.

A Doha court found 41-year-old Richard Gerrand guilty after he was charged with “breaching the honor” of the victim by attacking her.

The man, who was a university student studying primary education when the offense occurred last fall, will also be deported after serving his sentence, which was handed down this morning.

Though he was previously briefly jailed following the incident, he is not currently in custody and is said to be planning to appeal the verdict.

It’s common in Qatar for defendants who have been released on bail or under their own recognizance not to be immediately taken to prison following the initial verbal delivery of a verdict.

It’s not clear whether the man is currently under a travel ban, but defendants in criminal trials in Qatar are typically prevented from leaving the country.

Family’s response

The victim’s parents previously told Doha News that their daughter was molested during a sleepover last November at the home of the defendent, who was a friend of the family and has a daughter the same age as the victim.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The victim’s family left the country for good earlier this year after growing frustrated with what they argued was a lack of adequate support services for their daughter in Qatar, as well as being unable to receive an update on the status of the legal proceedings.

After being informed of today’s verdict, the victim’s mother said in a statement that the family was happy with the outcome and thanked the authorities in Qatar.

“Today justice has been served and we can now move on,” she said. “Justice has been done for ONE little girl who was brave enough to tell … that what this man did to her … was wrong.”

The defendent could not be reached for comment following Thursday’s hearing, but told the court he was innocent when charges were read out by the prosecutor in March. When reached by phone today, his wife declined to comment to Doha News.

Trial

A forensics expert who examined the victim’s clothing was the only witness who testified at the relatively short trial, which lasted three sessions, including procedural hearings to read out the charges and deliver the verdict.

She told the court that the defendent’a DNA was present in saliva samples she found on the “middle to lower” portion of a young girl’s pink dress. His saliva was also found on an undershirt as well as another piece of girl’s clothing submitted for testing.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The witness, who works in the Ministry of Interior’s criminal lab investigation department, was asked under cross-examination if the saliva stains could have been caused by someone sneezing in the vicinity.

She said that was not possible. The defendant’s lawyer then asked if saliva could be transferred to clothing that had been used to wipe a table that had been coughed on.

The witness replied it was theoretically possible, depending on the amount of saliva on the table.

In court, the defendant’s lawyer argued that the family of the victim had filed a “malicious claim” against his client.

Despite knowing that the victim’s mother was no longer in the country, the attorney added that he would still like to call her as a witness.

The prosecutor replied that in the woman’s absence, the court could refer back to the testimony that the victim’s mother had given police and the prosecutor’s office.

No medical exam

A complete medical examination was not performed on the victim following the incident, though the girl’s parents had taken their daughter to the Pediatric Emergency Center in Al Sadd, which is part of Hamad Medical Corp.

The victim’s father said the doctors there were sympathetic, but the visit was “not a good experience.”

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

He previously recalled that his daughter was taken to a “cold and clinical” room for a physical examination by several male doctors as well as other individuals – possibly student doctors, as their role was never explained.

Her father said his daughter was crying in the crowded room at this point and that he and his wife decided not to subject her to the examination under those circumstances, choosing instead to leave the hospital.

Insufficiently trained healthcare providers, bureaucratic hurdles and a reluctance to break cultural taboos are all believed to contribute to a severe underreporting of child abuse in Qatar, health officials have said.

In one of the few local studies on the subject, a 2013 survey by the Supreme Council for Family Affairs found sexual assaults typically make up a very small fraction of reported child abuse incidents in Qatar.

Thoughts?

46 COMMENTS

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Amber
Amber
6 years ago

A year for molestation? This dude should be facing at least 20 years or death sentence.

Conny
Conny
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

well said

UKExpat
UKExpat
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Seriously, you would kill someone based on a ‘trial’ conducted here.

Amber
Amber
6 years ago
Reply to  UKExpat

So you would rather have this child molestor back on the streets after only serving a year in jail? He’s not going to stop. He will get out in a year and then get deported back to his country and probably molest someone else’s child.

Ian Harris
Ian Harris
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

From what I read about the methodology of the police and forensic reports and the trial itself the conviction is highly dubious. If guilty, the sentence is inadequate-if not any punishment is unjustifiable.

UKExpat
UKExpat
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

I have no problem with throwing away the key if someone is actually guilty, but there are issues here with justice and evidence gathering.
https://dohanews.co/un-rep-qatar-judicial-system-faces-major-shortcomings-and-challenges/

Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Amber, you forgot to say “String ‘im up…yeee haa”

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

urgh, you’re so thick….just laying down populist soundbites without considering the details that are too complicated for you to understand……that ‘dude’ deserves a fair trial. Look it up.

hohum
hohum
6 years ago

There is no way any reader can judge whether the courts here came to the correct decision.

This Article gives very little details into the actual allegations and the significance of the DNA results. Not knowing how the evidence was collected and the court testimonies nobody can seriously judge whether of not this was a fair trial.

What I do know having gone through a similar accusation of raping a 9 year old Qatari student is that police investigations are woeful. In my case the allege crime scene was never visited to understand failings in their initial police reports. Parents asking “leading questions” to establish initial accusations. Failing to recognise inconsistencies between witness statements. To this day I am unsure if there was any DNA testing in my case but know that the medical test came back in my favour.

I personally have no confidence in the police collecting evidence for such cases in Qatar.

Edward
Edward
6 years ago
Reply to  hohum

Based on the facts reported in this article, this doesn’t seem like justice. The defendant could not question the accuser or her mother — this fact alone would case the case to be dismissed in any country with a modern, fair justice system. Not to mention the unreliability of the forensic evidence.

hohum
hohum
6 years ago
Reply to  Edward

you can never take what has been reported as facts, the same way you can never take either sides stories as fact. I totally agree that the mother needs to be cross examined, in my case I believe it was the cross examinations and the differerings in their stories compared to the initial police statements, which showed the judge who was telling the truth. As for the DNA I would be interested to know how finding his saliva on her shirt is significant. To me this seems only significant if their initial statements involved licking or sucking her shirt (which sounds like a weird thing to do when there would be so) otherwise why did they test the shirt? Is it a true result? I know when the medical report didn’t support the physical sexual accusations against myself the family changed their testimony to suit what the court had been presented. Unfortunately there are only two people who truly know what happened.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

A man is convicted of child molestation but walks free. A man is accused (not convicted) of insulting Islam and ends up in jail only to be freed months later when the charges are dropped. There is neither faith in the competency of the police to carry out a procedurally correct investigation nor in the justice system to deliver either a correct verdict or an appropriate sentence. What did the recently published report say – that there are 37 ways in which the justice system in Qatar could be improved? Only 37?

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

One way it can improve for you would only cost you a one way ticket can to where your from

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Really, honestly? You have to say this tired, offensive nonsense as a response to such a terrible story ?

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

That could very cheap if they’re from Doha.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

So I, as an expat subject to the full weight of the judicial system of Qatar, have no right to criticise that justice system if I believe it to be flawed and contradictory in it’s application, and I should simply accept whatever may be thrown at me? It takes just an accusation or a suspicion for someone to end up in jail in Qatar – a totally unacceptable breach of human rights. As a state Qatar is not far away from those where you fear a knock on the door in the middle of the night.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Deleting for attack.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

This story has many holes… How did the parents learn their child was molested ? What did the child claim.., and it the accused being charged with what exactly … Did the parents contact the MoI family welfare unit? Was a physical carried out at any point ?

Annabel
Annabel
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

The 7 year old came home scared bothered and horrified after a sleep over she told her experience to her parents in a public setting and then told her parents clearly of what had happened every detail and description and then drew pictures of the exact description of what that scum bag did to her. He deserves life – I fear for his own kids. Qatar should courts should have given him life. He a sick man!

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Annabel

If it was in a public setting why were there no witnesses called?

Conny
Conny
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

The incident occurred at his house. Read the article. It was a sleep over. The victim said it in a public place where other’s heard het describe the incident. Death penalty I’d say!!!

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Conny

“…she told her experience to her parents in a public setting..”

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

So why no witnesses to what the kid said? Very odd.

Mishka
Mishka
6 years ago
Reply to  Conny

Death penalty??? With this sort of evidence? What sort of courts convict someone without witnesses, cross-examination, etc? Guilty until proven innocent? Why didn’t the mother come back to give evidence as anon says she was asked to? Who were these people in the public place who overheard the complainant? Where were their witness statements?

jonno
jonno
6 years ago
Reply to  Conny

You have a lot of faith in the fairness of Qatari judicial process, Conny – either that or you’re just a bit bloodthirsty.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Conny

That’s the problem with the death sentence. So many people are happy to hang everyone regardless of the standard of trial.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Annabel

Thank you for sharing this additional information.

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  Annabel

….like a crap broken record you parrot the half-truths verbatim…………answer this, why did the parents flee the country when their testimony could have convicted the accused?

Anon
Anon
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

The father fled the country the day after the police wanted him for
questioning concerning the accusation. The mother and children not
leaving until a week later. This was more than a few months after the
reported crime. Not sure that sounds like people desperate to go home
and get help for their daughter. The mother was requested by the defence
(but not the child) to return to cross be examined over evidence but
refused.

Mishka
Mishka
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

Exactly! This article is very one-sided.

Sim
Sim
6 years ago
Reply to  Annabel

maybe they only gave him a year becaues they aren’t convinced he really did it. Guilty until proven innocent – look at the Huangs.

Annabel
Annabel
6 years ago

This is horrid – in the real world he would be charged a minimum of 10 years in Doha a Muslim country he should be given life!

Big Sumo
Big Sumo
6 years ago

1 year for sexually molesting a child!! The judicial system of Qatar thinks this is adequate punishment? 1 year for this sort of crime is what Qatari society thinks is rightful punishment? I am gob smacked, i could write a poem and do more jail time. This is a poor reflection on Qatar and the values of its citizens. I’m a Kiwi and deeply ashamed, this man was found guilty and should be locked up for decades.

Moud
Moud
6 years ago

Weeks ago the court hear the father is wanted by Qatar police but fleded the country when they ask him to come. the mather acuse but the father opened a case. does not make sense. this story is oneside only and did not tell truth of court information and dna’s,,,reporters need to dig deeper than hanging the wrong man

Mishka
Mishka
6 years ago

If the accusations were true, what sort of parent is happy with a one-year sentence, really?! How suspicious that the family have fled the country – after the father was called in to the police station for questioning. Guilty conscience, anyone? Anybody who knows the mother knows that she is a drama queen. I feel sorry for their daughter being used as a pawn.

Supporter
Supporter
6 years ago
Reply to  Mishka

What a sad individual you are Mishka.

Conny
Conny
6 years ago
Reply to  Supporter

Not in a million years would a mother dramatise about such a story. C’mon…they had to flee the bloody country to get adequate support & don’t want to see these people ever again. It’s a positive start to a new chapter in their life. Wish them all the best where ever they are.
I agree with supporter!!

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Conny

Mothers do all kinds of crazy things. Not saying it happened but it does.

Mishka
Mishka
6 years ago
Reply to  Conny

Haven’t you been following the case at the international school in Indonesia? Being a mother doesn’t make you sane.

Mishka
Mishka
6 years ago
Reply to  Supporter

If you say so, Supporter. I guess you know why the father fled the country then, right?

Blacksheep
Blacksheep
6 years ago
Reply to  Mishka

This is sick. Why would the family break contract and move there family if it wasn’t true? The report about what happened from the child itself could never have been made up. As if she is happy with one year Mishka. Seriously. It is sick and horrible. He needs to rot a lot longer than one year. Shame on Qatar for not holding him in custody for longer. He needs to be far away from any children. Especially his own. This country needs to inform New Zealand and the International Teachers Associations so that he NEVER teaches anywhere again. This man should never be allowed to be around children.

Anon-a-mouse
Anon-a-mouse
6 years ago

I know for a fact that the mother made the same accusation against someone else two years ago. The reason? She wanted to move from a sub-standard apartment to a newer company apartment. It worked! What did she want from the accused this time? Did she expect his family to run, believing that she could move into his place? I believe that there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye – especially in this article. A 1 year sentence means that they are 95% convinced that he is innocent.

fair play
fair play
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon-a-mouse

May I suggest that in the interests of fair justice… you come forward to the police with the information regarding the previous accusation. You evidence may just prove a man innocent.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  fair play

You can’t prove people innocent. You get a choice between “guilty” and “not guilty”. The fact someone was previously accused doesn’t in itself indicate this person was not guilty but it may be an indicator he was falsely accused. Sadly the fact he has been found guilty seems to be based on very little at all – at least very little that has been made public.

Blacksheep
Blacksheep
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon-a-mouse

Whatever. This report about what the kid said could never be made up. It is sick and horrible for you even to think that they made this up. As if they would do all of this just to swap houses. That man is a sick human being who needs to rot a lot longer than one year.He is a creep and I feel sick and sad for his own children. The training college that he is with needs to be notified so he never teaches anywhere again. 95% convinced he is innocent- what a load of…. DNA don’t lie. As if she decided to take the bottom half of her dress to wipe a table where he ‘may have’ sneezed then put it back on and carried on at the sleepover. You should never doubt a child and always trust your instincts

Truth_please
Truth_please
6 years ago
Reply to  Blacksheep

‘You should never doubt a child’? There are NUMEROUS cases where false accusations have been made by children – look them up! They often come about because parents and other adults ask leading questions and/or the child wants to please them – which is why people are not questioning the child so much here but doubting her parents. DNA doesn’t ‘lie’, true, but if it’s such a small amount that it could have come from a cough – what’s the relevance of it in this case??? Was that it in terms of evidence? So how exactly was her ‘honour’ breached? He coughed on her??? The newspaper article is pretty bare on the facts. It says there was no medical examination and none of the family came to court. Evidence like this would NEVER stand up in a court.

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