Two Emirati men
are accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old French
boy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 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 boys 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.
court documents, the 35-year-old defendant has been
identified as HIV-positive.
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
legal system prohibits the media from naming the defendants
until a verdict is reached in the case.
The case has
garnered much attention and controversy here in this booming
Persian Gulf tourist hub, which boasts of its prosperous
economy, relatively moderate lifestyles, and fair
commercial and criminal legal systems.
expatriates here -- both affluent working managers and
low-paid laborers -- have long complained that
foreigners have few legal rights. Emirati citizens are
far outnumbered by foreign workers and expatriates,
mostly from Asia but also from Europe.
deny they have mishandled the case and say they treat
fairly both Emiratis and foreigners living in Dubai.
Dubai, like much
of the Arab world, also remains largely hostile to
homosexuality. The United Arab Emirates 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.
But 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.
newspaper Liberation quoted the victim's family
as saying police also tried to force the boy to say he
was a homosexual, immediately after the attack. He now lives
The family could
not be reached by the Associated Press this week and
calls to the boy's lawyer in Dubai were not returned.
court documents, the juvenile defendant offered the two
French boys, one of whom he knew slightly, a ride home from
a Dubai mall. The two French boys got in the car but
were later joined by the other two adult defendants,
the documents said.
The group drove
to the edge of the Dubai desert, where the three
defendants are accused of taking turns sexually assaulting
one of the boys in the car while the other one was
told to stay behind a sand dune, according to the
The judge on
Wednesday set another hearing for November 7. (Barbara Surk,