A WOMAN convicted of torturing and beating her stepdaughter to death was taken into custody yesterday when she attended an appeals hearing.
The Yemeni national was sentenced to seven years in prison by the High Criminal Court in April in connection with the death of nine-year-old Zahra Al Hasisi.
Zahra was pronounced dead at the King Hamad University Hospital on July 30 last year after suffering internal bleeding from being brutally assaulted.
She also had injuries that suggested she had suffered years of abuse, including burns to her back and neck.
The stepmother lodged an appeal against the conviction at the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court and was released from police custody pending the outcome of the trial.
However, when she appeared in court yesterday the judge ordered her arrest and adjourned the hearing to September 29 for a ruling.
The girl’s father, a Bahraini of Yemeni origin, also appeared in court yesterday because the Public Prosecution lodged an appeal against his acquittal.
“Your honour, I swear to God I did not kill her,” the stepmother said in court as she pleaded with the leading judge.
“I was watching television with the children when she went to the bathroom and I heard her scream, but when I went to check I saw her lying on the ground and bleeding.
“I loved her and took care of her. Why would I kill her?
“Please don’t arrest me, I did not do anything wrong.”
She then started to scream repeatedly inside the courtroom as the judge ordered her to be arrested and a policewoman escorted her outside to a police transport bus.
Defence lawyer Faisal Al Jamaan, representing the man and his wife, claimed in court that there was “no evidence” proving the stepmother beat the child to death.
“Your honour, there are 4,400 people who die annually from slipping and falling down according to the World Health Organisation,” said Mr Al Jamaan in court.
“The victim fell in the bathroom and hit her head on the toilet seat.
“A medical examiner said that she was struck with a solid object, but in fact the girl hit her head on the toilet seat after slipping.
“In addition, the victim’s brothers and sisters wrote letters with heart signs on it when they learnt their stepmother was jailed initially. If they love her so much and say that she was always nice to them then why would she kill the victim?
“Therefore, I request her acquittal.”
However, the medical examiner, who carried out Zahra’s autopsy, previously revealed horrific details of the abuse in court, saying that the injuries the child suffered suggested she endured years of mistreatment.
Zahra lived with her father, stepmother, three siblings and two step-siblings at an apartment in Hidd since 2013, after the father was granted custody by a Yemeni court.
The sentence handed down to the woman in April was the maximum punishment for the charge of death caused by beating.
In its ruling the High Criminal Court called upon Bahrain’s legislative body to amend the law and increase the punishment for “such horrendous acts”.