I read with great interest on the execution of Rashid Al Rashidi, a child killer in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Thursday 10 February 2011. I have a great heartfelt sympathy for his four-year-old Pakistani victim, Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed and the boy’s family members. I suddenly recalled the case of James Bulger murdered on 12 February 1993. I noticed some similarities in the murder case of the two boys, it convinced me that Moosa was like the ‘James Bulger’ of the UAE.
The two murder cases:
James Bulger: On 12 February 1993, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were playing truant from school, CCTV evidence from the New Strand Shopping Centre in showed them casually observing children, apparently selecting a target. They were also stealing different stuffs. When two year old James Bulger was alone, they lured him to a steep bank to a railway line near the disused Walton & Anfield railway station, close to Anfield Cemetery, where they sexually assaulted him and tortured and beat him to death. Before they left him, the boys laid Bulger across the railway tracks and weighted his head down with rubble, in the hope that a train would hit him and make his death appear to be an accident. After Bulger's killers left the scene, his body was cut in half by a train. Bulger's severed body was discovered two days later, on 14 February. A forensic pathologist testified that he had died before he was struck by the train.
Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed: Moosa was raped and murdered on November 27, 2009, the first day of Eid al Adha. He left the family’s house in Al Qusais 3 in the morning with some friends and relatives, and al Rashidi lured him into the bathroom of a Dubai mosque, promising him an Eid gift. Once inside, he silenced the boy by covering his mouth, then raped him. He banged the boy’s head against a wall, then fled, leaving the child for dead. Two witnesses had earlier saw Al Rashidi picked up Moosa and dragged him, they saw Moosa kicking and screaming into the mosque washroom. Witnesses assumed that Moosa was Al Rashidi’s child simply unhappy about attending services.
Arrest and Evidence:
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson: The police quickly found low-resolution video images of Bulger's abduction from the New Strand Shopping Centre by two unidentified boys. As the circumstances surrounding the death became clear, tabloid newspapers denounced the people who had seen Bulger but had not intervened to aid Bulger as he was being taken through the city, as the "Liverpool 38". The railway embankment upon which his body had been discovered was flooded with hundreds of bunches of flowers.
The crime created great anger in Liverpool and throughout the country. The family of one boy who was detained for questioning, but subsequently released, had to flee the city. The breakthrough came when a woman, on seeing slightly enhanced images of the two boys on national television, recognised Venables, who, she knew, had played truant with Thompson that day. She contacted police and the boys were arrested.
The fact that the suspects were so young came as a shock to investigating officers, headed by Detective Superintendent Albert Kirby, of Merseyside Police. Early press reports and police statements had referred to Bulger being seen with "two youths" (suggesting that the killers were teenagers), the ages of the boys being difficult to ascertain from the images captured by CCTV.
Forensic tests confirmed that both boys had the same blue paint on their clothing as found on Bulger's body. Both had blood on their shoes; the blood on Thompson's shoe was matched to Bulger's through DNA tests. A pattern of bruising on Bulger's right cheek matched the features of the upper part of a shoe worn by Thompson; a paint mark in the toecap of one of Venables' shoes indicated he must have used "some force" when he kicked Bulger.
The boys were charged with Bulger's murder on 20 February 1993, and appeared at South Sefton Youth Court on 22 February 1993, when they were remanded in custody to await trial. In the aftermath of their arrest, and throughout the media accounts of their trial, the boys were referred to as 'Child A' (Thompson) and 'Child B' (Venables). While awaiting trial, they were held in the secure units where they would eventually be sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.
Rashid Al Rashidi: He was arrested the next day on 28 November 2009, when his fingerprints were found to match those from the crime scene. Al Rashidi had a criminal record, which included molesting an eight-year-old boy, for which he served a prison sentence. When he killed Moosa he had been recently released from prison on separate sex assault charges.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson: The two boys, by then aged 11, were found guilty of Bulger's murder at the Preston court on 24 November 1993, becoming the youngest convicted murderers of the 20th century. The judge, Mr. Justice Morland, told Thompson and Venables that they had committed a crime of "unparalleled evil and barbarity... In my judgment, your conduct was both cunning and very wicked." Morland sentenced them to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure, with a recommendation that they should be kept in custody for "very, very many years to come", recommending a minimum term of eight years.
These aspects were later criticised by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in 1999 that they had not received a fair trial by being tried in public in an adult court.
Rashid Al Rashidi:
- November 27, 2009: Rashid al Rashidi, 30, lures Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, four, into a mosque toilet, rapes him and kills him.
- November 28, 2009: Al Rashidi is arrested after fingerprints from the crime scene are matched to him.
- December 8, 2009: Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for al Rashidi if he is convicted.
- December 2009: Hamed al Khazraji, a court-appointed attorney, refuses to represent al Rashidi.
- January 2010: Abdullah al Midrib and his father, Abdel Rahman al Midrib, appointed to represent him.
- February 14, 2010: Mohammed al Saadi takes over the defence.
- January 29, 2010: al Rashidi is found guilty in the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance and sentenced to death.
- April 1, 2010: The Court of Appeal upholds the conviction and sentence.
- June 7, 2010: al Rashidi loses his last appeal at the Court of Cassation
- February 10, 2011: al Rashidi is executed by firing squad.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson: Shortly after the trial, and after the judge had recommended a minimum sentence of eight years, Lord Taylor of Gosforth, the Lord Chief Justice, ordered that the two boys should serve a minimum of ten years, which would have made them eligible for release in February 2003 at the age of 20.
The editors of The Sun newspaper handed a petition bearing nearly 280,000 signatures to Home Secretary Michael Howard, in a bid to increase the time spent by both boys in custody. This campaign was successful, and in July 1994 Howard announced that the boys would be kept in custody for a minimum of fifteen years, meaning that they would not be considered for release until February 2008, by which time they would be 25 years of age.
Lord Donaldson criticised Howard's intervention, describing the increased tariff as "institutionalised vengeance ... [by] a politician playing to the gallery". The increased minimum term was overturned in 1997 by the House of Lords, who ruled that it was “unlawful" for the Home Secretary to decide on minimum sentences for young offenders. The High Court and European Court of Human Rights have since ruled that, though the parliament may set minimum and maximum terms for individual categories of crime, it is the responsibility of the trial judge, with the benefit of all the evidence and argument from both prosecution and defence counsel, to determine the minimum term in individual criminal cases.
In 1999, lawyers for Thompson and Venables appealed to the European Court of Human Rights that the boys' trial had not been impartial, since they were too young to follow proceedings and understand an adult court. The European court dismissed their claim that the trial was inhuman and degrading treatment, but upheld their claim they were denied a fair hearing by the nature of the court proceedings. The European Court also held that Michael Howard's intervention had led to a "highly charged atmosphere", which resulted in an unfair judgment. On 15 March 1999, the court in Strasbourg ruled by 14 votes to five that there had been a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_6_of_the_European_Convention_on_Human_Rights) regarding the fairness of the trial of Thompson and Venables, stating: "The public trial process in an adult court must be regarded in the case of an 11-year-old child as a severely intimidating procedure".
The following March, British newspaper The Observer ran the announcement by Jack Straw, Britain's Home Secretary, that Thompson and Venables would be freed by 2003. Straw's decision was based on the European Court of Human Rights ruling that Michael Howard, Home Secretary at the time of the boys sentencing, had "acted illegally when fixing a 15-year sentence for them."
According to the report filed on March 12, 2000, the Home Secretary "had the option of referring the case to the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, for a full review, because of the long-standing confusion over serious child crimes and the open-ended sentences imposed."
Also detailed were two other options: "to accept the original sentence of eight years set by the trial judge, Mr. Justice Morland, which would have meant the boys walking free next year , or the 10-year tariff imposed later by the then Lord Chief Justice after a campaign by James Bulger's parents. He opted for the latter."
The Observer also suggested that the decision could have far-reaching consequences as it could mean future cases of a similar nature would not be tried in an adult court.
In September 1999, Bulger's parents applied to the European Court of Human Rights, but failed to persuade the court that a victim of a crime has the right to be involved in determining the sentence of the perpetrator.
On Thursday October 26, 2000, the Guardian reported that Lord Woolf, the British lord chief justice, had cut the minimum sentences of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables "effectively granting them their freedom early next year  subject to a parole board decision."
According to the report, Lord Woolf said: "Because of their behaviour they are entitled to a reduction in the tariff (the minimum term for punishment and deterrence) to eight years, which happens to be the figure determined by the trial judge.
"An eight-year tariff would expire on the 21st February 2001. I have already pointed out that it would not be in their or the public's interest for these two young men to be transferred to a young offenders institution."
He added, "However grave their crime, the fact remains that if that crime had been committed a few months earlier, when they were under 10, the boys could not have been tried or punished by the courts."
On Tuesday November 14, 2000, the Guardian followed up with a report that described how Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were at "real risk of reprisals which could threaten their lives if their whereabouts and new identities are revealed" and applied for "unprecedented lifetime injunctions preventing the media from disclosing information which would identify them."
Rashid Al Rashidi: For Al Rashidi, there was no post-trial, justice was served. Hooded, dressed in a black prison suit and with his arms tied behind his back, al Rashidi was driven the short distance to a nearby patch of land, normally used by police officers for shooting practice.
Though obviously terrified, witnesses say he remained quiet and did not faint, keeping to his feet as he was led to the spot where he was to be shot. There, he asked to be allowed to kneel in prayer one last time; his wish was granted before he was tied to a stake in front of the firing squad.
On Thursday 10 February 2011 at about 8.30am, with all appeal processes exhausted, al Rashidi faced a nine-man firing squad under the command of Dubai's Attorney General, Essam al Humaidan, whose duty it was to give the order to carry out the sentence of death. At least one of the men was holding a rifle loaded with a blank shot - the so-called "conscience round", designed to prevent any member of a firing squad knowing for sure that he has fired the fatal bullet.
The volley rang out at 8.35am and al Rashidi slumped forward, apparently lifeless. Moosa's father was allowed close to the body to see for himself that justice had been done and then a doctor stepped forward to confirm that al Rashidi was dead. It was 8.37am."Now," said Mr Ahmed, "my heart is at ease."
Families beware: There are some lessons to be learn here. If you are a parent with a young child, never leave them alone when you go out with them. Always stick with them and watch them closely. Moosa’s father said, “My wife was two months pregnant at the time of the murder, and had a miscarriage because of the grief. Now my wife stands at the school gate until Mustafa (his current son) reaches the bus and calls the school throughout the day to check if he is fine. When he returns, we make sure someone is there to get him.”
Victims’ families reaction:
James Bulger’s families: On Tuesday November 14, 2000, the Guardian followed up with a report that described how Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were at "real risk of reprisals which could threaten their lives if their whereabouts and new identities are revealed" and applied for "unprecedented lifetime injunctions preventing the media from disclosing information which would identify them."
Their applications were based on comments by Ralph Bulger, James's father, who had vowed to "hunt his son's killers down." Edward Fitzgerald QC, council for Venables stated, "taken in context, it is abundantly clear what he intends to do when he hunts them down." They also cited a "declared intention by the media to 'out' the pair."
In answer, Ralph Bulger told reporters: "James had the right to live, the right to grow old, to love and be loved and to have children of his own. But they took his rights away from him and so they should have no rights at all, never mind the right to privacy or the right to hide away."
The injunction was sought under the Human Rights Act, which came into force in October 2000 and, according to Fitzgerald, "was justified to protect their right to life and to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, which could be threatened by revenge attacks."
He also asked that the injunction "ban anyone publishing anything about the boys' whereabouts or their assumed identities when they are released. Disclosure of that information would expose him (Venables) and his co-detainee to serious physical risk and serious psychological fear and the likelihood of harassment. It is necessary to protect his right to life and freedom from persecution."
The Guardian also reported that the application "was backed by the attorney general, in his role as guardian of the public interest. The home secretary and the official solicitor also support the application for a media ban, which is opposed by three newspaper groups."
The report described the president of the high court's family division, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, as saying "she hoped to decide before Christmas  whether to grant the ban."
Four days later, James Bulger's mother Denise Fergus held a press conference and told reporters that "I feel let down and betrayed by the system. The only shred of hope I have is that Dame Elizabeth turns down the application for Robert Thompson and Jon Venables to be given anonymity for the rest of their lives. As children one can understand them being given some protection but what right have they got to be given special treatment as adults as well?"
"For seven years the system persuaded me to rely on the criminal justice procedures and to remain silent although all this time I feared the worst.
"Venables and Thompson have dragged me, my family, and the name of James through every court possible in this country and Europe for which unlimited funds have been made available to them. This is in complete contrast to the help made available to victims of crime. The European court of human rights has become a friend of criminals and enemy of their victims".
In January, 2001, the injunction application was approved and Venables and Thompson were granted a lifetime of immunity from exposure, to "protect them as they adjust to life outside."
On Friday June 22, 2001, the British home secretary, David Blunkett, confirmed that the parole board had approved the release of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. In a special report published the same day, the Guardian reported the story including the furor that greeted the announcement.
In a statement to the press, Norman Brennan, a spokesman for Denise Fergus said:
"Denise is absolutely devastated and stunned. There has to be a punishment element for such a crime but all Denise sees is Venables and Thompson being rewarded. It has never been about revenge, it's just about a justice denied. Denise points the finger directly at the lord chief justice, Lord Woolf, as being the head of the liberal elite, who has basically sent a message that crime pays.
Venables and Thompson are being released back to their families, who themselves could only dream of the living conditions they will now enjoy. If they had given their children love and support, as they should have done nine years ago, James would never have been murdered."
Former home secretary, Michael Howard also stated: "I very much regret this decision. It may well be that the parole board had no alternative but I think Lord Woolf was wrong to decide that eight years was sufficient time for Thompson and Venables to spend in custody in the light of the uniquely dreadful circumstances of their crime."
The next day the Guardian followed up with a report that the safety of Venables and Thompson was already in doubt after the Manchester Evening News "appeared to have breached the injunction banning information which might identify their whereabouts." The report also reported the attorney general reiterating the high court injunction and was considering contempt proceedings against the paper.
The following week the Guardian ran a story quoting Denise Fergus as saying: "No matter where they go, someone out there is waiting."
A week later in her first TV interview since the decision to release her son's killers, Denise Fergus told ITV's Tonight with Trevor McDonald that she was "frightened an innocent person might be mistaken for his killers. Right now I think they are still dangerous, and the saying goes 'once a murderer always a murderer'. I'm not going to hunt them down, try and kill them, but if it happens then I can't stop it. If you opened a paper or heard on the news someone had attacked them - I wouldn't feel sorry for them.
"What I'm frightened of is someone innocent getting mistaken for them and I do fear that. Now I don't want anyone else under mistaken identity to be hurt or worse. So what I'd say is be sure. Don't think or assume, be sure."
Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed’s family: According to execution procedures, the families of convicts on death row can visit them during their imprisonment and on the day of execution, but they are not allowed to witness the execution itself. The victim’s families, however, may be allowed to witness it. Representatives from the prosecution, Dubai Police, the director of the correctional facility and a physician must be present when the sentence is carried out. The death warrant must be read aloud by the director of the correctional establishment or one of his nominees. A prosecution representative will document any last words said by the convict, and the time of death. The firing squad consists of nine men, who go to an undisclosed location. At least one is given a rifle loaded with a blank cartridge, so none of them knows who fired the fatal shot.
The family of the victim, Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed, have been told the execution will take place today but will not be allowed to witness it, the official said.
They will be called after the sentence has been carried out and forensics experts had examined the body to confirm al Rashidi’s death. They will then be allowed to view the body, he said.
“Moosa’s mother and I want to see him die,” Moosa’s father, Mukhtiar Ahmed Khudabaksh, 32, said yesterday. “We will be relieved when we see him executed for what he did to our child.”
Mr Khudabaksh, who has worked for the Dubai Police as a tailor since last September, said: “Once I hear the gunfire, I will kneel on the ground and bow to God twice in prayer.”
“I want to see him die with my own eyes,” Moosa’s mother said, “The killer should be executed in public as a lesson to other criminals”, she said, “and the family will go early to the prison today and ask to be allowed in.”
"My child has finally got justice. The justice he deserved," father of Mousa, the four-year-old schoolboy who was raped and murdered in a mosque on Eid Al Adha two years ago, told Gulf News.
"We are really happy and relieved that justice has been served."
The tearful father, Mukhtiar Ahmad Khuda Buksh, was speaking shortly after the execution of the 31-year-old Emirati, Rashid Al Rashidi, following his conviction for the brutal killing.
The Pakistani family of four — Mousa's parents and siblings Mustafa and Mariam — have been under tremendous stress in the two years since learning about the brutal incident to holding themselves up through the trials.
"But the authorities including the police and the judiciary have been utmost supportive and understanding," the father said.
"I am just a poor man. But the fact that I got justice and in such a fast manner is laudable," he said repeatedly thanking the officials.
"The way we got justice here, probably we wouldn't have got even in my own country (Pakistan)."
Also the compassion with which we were treated by people here, he added.
Earlier, he used to work in a private company as a driver. Recently he was offered a job with Dubai Police and now works for them. "Every day I have been going to the same mosque for prayer five times a day. Now my prayers have been heard."
The family said that they would never have accepted blood money to deter capital punishment. "When I die and I meet my son in heaven, how could I face him if I did?"
His wife has been struggling hard to cope with the loss of her son, he said, calling on all parents to never let their children out of sight.
Sitting beside her husband, Mousa's mother Jamala Khatoun said she wished to thank all those who helped them. "My prayers are with you all."
Fair and unfair court system:
If you read above, the European Court of Human Rights are friends to criminals and not victims, they are the reason why the European victims of crimes have no justice and suffer a lot. Unlike those courts in Dubai, a U.A.E judge said "The death penalty for murder is the original sentence - a judge cannot ignore it," said the official, who did not wish to be named.
"Murder is an issue that has to do with the victim's family, and it is not up to the judge to rule against it unless the family accepts diyya [blood money] or forgives the killer.
"If we do not sentence a killer to death, the victim's family will seek revenge, and that would cause a problem in our society."
As for executing minors, he said, Sharia clearly states when a person becomes an adult.
"The point is to determine when a person is an adult - when he or she can decide what is wrong and what is right," he said.
If I were a victim’s family member, I rather that the killer of my loved one be tried in the Dubai court than in the European Court of Human Rights. I am extremely happy that Moosa’s family had received the justice, I do remember James Bulger’s family in prayer and hope that we will all do. I feel that the European Union needs to be abolished, so that those innocent victims in UK (and even in Europe) can have justice. Once the EU is abolished, countries have the right to their own laws. The reason why those European judicial system are against capital punishment is because they want to protect criminals, not victims. The death penalty brings justice to the victim and the family, ask the family members of Moosa and they will agree to that.