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Dubai court jails boy's HIV rapist

  • Story Highlights
  • Dubai court sentences two men to 15 years for rape, kidnapping of 15-year-old boy
  • One of the attackers was knowingly HIV-positive at the time of the rape
  • Family of the French victim says this makes attack akin to attempted murder
  • Family say case investigation botched, want more severe sentence
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DUBAI (CNN) -- A court in Dubai sentenced two men Wednesday to 15 years in prison for the rape and kidnapping of a 15-year-old French boy.

Veronique Robert, mother of the 15-year-old French-Swiss teen, speaking outside a court in Dubai.

The boy's mother, Veronique Robert, was visibly upset after the sentence was read and promised to appeal.

Robert, a French journalist, brought the case to the media's attention in recent months in an effort to shed light on what she deemed to be injustices in the pro-Western emirate of Dubai.

Robert said Wednesday's sentence was too lenient for a crime that she believes is tantamount to attempted murder because one of her son's attackers was knowingly HIV-positive at the time of the rape.

She refrained from asking the death penalty for her son's attackers, but said she hoped the sentence would be much longer.

A spokesman for the Dubai government, Habib al Mulla, told CNN the sentence was in accordance with international standards and was not lenient.

"Today's verdict has proven that the system is efficient and is fair to all parties involved," al Mulla said.

The case began in July, when the two men, 36 and 18, kidnapped and raped the French teenager at knifepoint.

Robert contacted French diplomats, who took up the allegations with Dubai authorities. Al Mulla said police action was swift and arrests were made within 24 hours.

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But Robert has said the case was botched from the start, beginning with her son's examination by a doctor who said her son was gay. Homosexuality in Dubai is illegal, and the teen could have faced as much as a year in prison.

Robert's son has since returned to France and was not in court for Wednesday's sentencing.

Robert has also said Dubai authorities repeatedly concealed evidence -- confirmed in court papers -- that one of the attackers was HIV-positive. Robert said her son, who is still awaiting test results to find out whether he has the virus, could have gotten treatment much sooner had they known.

Dubai authorities deny any evidence was concealed.

The case has shed light on Dubai's attitudes toward rape and homosexuality, which some Western observers have said is outdated. Al Mulla, however, said Wednesday's sentencing and the government's handling of the case proves the country's system works.

"It's today's verdict which proves that there is a system," al Mulla said. "The system is working properly. However, if there is any room for any improvement in the system, we'll definitely look into it, consider it, and if there's any room for improvement, we'll implement it."

The mother has already filed suit in courts in Paris and Geneva, Switzerland seeking compensation from Sheikh Khalifa, president of the United Arab Emirates, and the prime minister and vice president of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum.

She is also suing others, including the Dubai police chief. Robert started a Web site over the summer,, demanding better treatment for children who suffer sexual assault there.

At a press conference last month, she proclaimed, "We are here because I just would like first justice for my son; and second for every girl and boy who was raped and even had no chance to speak."

Robert said she will drop all her pending cases if the government sets up rape clinics, recognizes the status of rape victims, and takes precautions after rape against sexually-transmitted diseases. In the wake of Wednesday's verdict, Robert said a Dubai government official told her the emirate plans to open its first rape clinic, which she said was a small victory.


The government has not yet officially announced its plans to open such a facility. Al Mulla told CNN that Dubai believes a reception center for rape victims is "a good solution."

"We are considering it," he said, regarding Robert's request. "We believe it's good. It's good for the victims, and it's good for the whole system." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN correspondent Wilf Dinnick contributed to this report.

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