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Two Men Get 15
Years in Attack on Boy

Two Men Get 15
Years in Attack on Boy

Two United Arab Emirates men were sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison in a highly charged case involving the kidnapping and sexual assault of a French-Swiss teenage boy.

A court in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday sentenced two Emirati men to 15 years in prison in a highly charged case involving the kidnapping and sexual assault of a French-Swiss teenage boy.

Veronique Robert, the mother of the 15-year-old victim, said ''justice was done'' but that she would still appeal to try to gain a life sentence for one of the defendants, a 35-year-old man she contends knew he was HIV-positive before the attack.

He and an 18-year-old man were charged with ''kidnapping with deceit'' and ''forced homosexual relations,'' a charge that can be punished with life imprisonment or death, in connection with the July attack on the boy.

A third defendant who is under 18 is being tried in a juvenile court on the same charges and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The judges did not state specifically what each defendant was convicted of, in line with the confidentiality clauses in Dubai's court system. Their names also cannot be made public, under the court system's rules.

Neither of the defendants nor the underage victim, who now lives in Europe, were present in the courtroom Wednesday when the three-judge panel read the sentences.

The Associated Press is using Robert's name with her consent but is not identifying her son.

Both the defendants and the victim have 15 days to appeal the verdict to Dubai's court of appeals.

Robert's son told police he and a 16-year-old friend were abducted while they were on their way home from a mall in Dubai in July. The three defendants then drove to the edge of Dubai's desert and threatened the boys with a stick and a knife, then took turns sexually assaulting him, the boy said.

A defense attorney told the court his clients denied having sexual intercourse with the boy and maintained both teens entered the car voluntarily.

The high-profile case has raised questions over the treatment of sex-crime victims in Dubai, a rapidly growing but deeply conservative Persian Gulf city-state where the legal system is a mix of Islamic laws and tribal rules.

Robert, who has been highly critical of the proceedings, set up a website calling for pressure on authorities to protect underage rape victims by measures such as ensuring that they are tested for infectious diseases and get psychological help immediately after an attack.

Habib al-Mulla, a government spokesman, rejected criticism of the emirate's legal system and defended the prison terms handed down Wednesday.

''The sentences, by any international standards, are not lenient,'' al-Mulla said on CNN Wednesday. ''I think the outcome of the whole process is extremely good.''

When the case came to light, Robert accused Emirati authorities of lying about the HIV status of the older defendant to cover up the fact that AIDS exists in Dubai. She also accused Dubai authorities of lacking sensitivity in their handling of her son, accusing him of homosexual behavior and of fabricating the attack.

The older defendant ''said to the prosecutors that he was HIV-positive,'' Robert told the AP in a telephone interview after the verdict was read in Dubai's court of first instance. ''He knew that he might have planted death into my son, and for that he is a criminal who deserves to be in jail for life.''

Robert has been in Dubai throughout the trial. Her son, a former student in Dubai, left the UAE in early October because French diplomats warned he might be prosecuted for homosexual acts, a crime there.

But after authorities said he would not be charged, the boy returned briefly to testify in court November 7. His testimony was closed to the public. (AP)

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