21 May 2014

Suai District Court sentences defendant in case of sexual abuse of a person incapable of resistance to 6 years in prison

ETLJB 21/05/2014 - East Timor's Judicial System Monitoring Program has released the English translation of its report on monitoring of a case of sexual abuse in the Suai District Court. The text of the translation follows.

On 14 May 2014 the Suai District Court read out its decision in a case involving sexual abuse of a person incapable of resistance. Previously on 28 April 2014 the mobile court in Manufahi conducted a hearing to examine evidence.

The public prosecutor alleged that on 20 May 2012 the defendant went into the room of the victim who was ill at the time. The defendant removed the victim’s clothes and then raped the victim. The defendant was the stepfather of the victim.

“JSMP believes that this penalty is not proportional to the crime committed because there are two things that need to be considered; firstly the defendant was the stepfather of the victim and secondly, the victim was a person suffering a serious illness who should have been protected by the defendant. JSMP believes that the defendant should have received a heavier penalty than this,” said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

In this case, the public prosecutor alleged that the defendant violated Article 172 and 173 (c) of the Penal Code on rape and aggravation, however after examining the evidence, the court amended this article and replaced it with Article 179 of the Penal Code on sexual abuse of a person incapable of resistance.

During the trial the defendant rejected all of the facts described in the indictment of the public prosecutor. The defendant stated that the victim had made accusations and slandered him. The defendant also stated that he was angry at the victim because the victim did not go to school, so the victim went and lived with her uncle.

On the other hand, the victim stated that the defendant committed the act when the victim was suffering from epilepsy. Although she was sick, the victim was aware of what the defendant did to her because at that time her feelings were functioning as normal. At that time, the defendant ordered the mother of the victim (F) to go and find some medicine, and the defendant took advantage of the victim and raped her. When the victim woke up, she saw a lot of blood on the bed and victim could not move because of pain in her genitals.

The court confirmed the facts with the mother of the victim. Moreover, another witness C (uncle of the victim), stated that the victim told him that she did not want to go to school because her stepfather had raped her. Then the court rechecked the facts with the victim.

In her final recommendations the public prosecutor stated that the defendant had committed sexual violence against the victim, and therefore she requested for the court to sentence the defendant to 15 years in prison. On the other hand the public defender argued that the defendant had rejected all of the alleged facts, the witness did not see the incident first hand, and this means that the defendant was not guilty, and therefore he requested to the court to acquit the defendant.

After examining the facts established during the trial, and after amending the article listed in the indictment, the court then sentenced the defendant to 6 years in prison and ordered him to pay court costs of US$ 30. However, this decision did not include compensation for the victim.

This case was registered as Case No: 15/PEN/2014/TDS. Previously the hearing was presided over by a panel of judges comprising: Constancio Barros Bâsmery, Pedro Raposu Figueredo (international) and Argentino L. Nunes (trainee). However when the decision was announced the panel of judges was represented by Constancio Barros Bâsmery. The public prosecution service was represented by Benvinda da Costa do Rosario and the defendant was represented by public defender Manuel Amaral who replaced João Hendrique de Carvalho.Source: JSMP Press Release 14 May 2014
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