Thursday, November 1, 2007

Two Emirati men are accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old French teen

2 Men Accused of Kidnapping, Sexually Assaulting French Teen in United Arab Emirates
Two Emirati men are accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old French teen, a case that has raised questions about the protection of foreigners and the fairness of a legal system where male rape does not exist as a crime.

The defendants — aged 35 and 18 — briefly appeared in court Wednesday where one was appointed a new lawyer. The other defendant's attorney did not appear in court for the hearing, which lasted a few minutes.

The two are accused of kidnapping two French teens and sexually assaulting one of them in July. A third defendant, also accused of taking part in the assault and also Emirati, is being tried in a juvenile court where the proceedings are closed to the public.

Last week, the two adult defendants pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping with deceit and illicit sexual intercourse.

According to court documents, the 35-year-old defendant has been identified as HIV positive.

The charges against the two adult defendants carry the death penalty if convicted. It was not immediately clear what sentence the third defendant would face if convicted in juvenile court.
Dubai remains largely hostile to homosexuality. The UAE legal system does not recognize rape of men as a crime, only rape of women, although prosecutors can bring other charges in the case of a sexual assault against a man, as they have in the French teenager's case.

The teenager and his family have told French newspapers and Web sites that Dubai authorities tried to discourage them from pressing charges in the case, and also failed to tell them that one defendant had tested HIV positive.

The French newspaper Liberation quoted the victim's family as saying police also tried to force the teen to say he was a homosexual, immediately after the attack. He now lives in Switzerland.

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