Five suspects arrested after attack of 12-year-old rape victim [Archives:2008/1166/Front Page]

June 23 2008

Saddam Al-Ashmouri
AMRAN, June 20 ) Police in Amran Governorate are interrogating five men who were arrested last week in connection with the assault of 12-year-old Sowsan Al-Madhlai.

A security source said that there were 11 attackers, but the police were only able to apprehend five directly after the attack, which took place on June 14. The assault left Sowsan, her six-year-old sister Fatehia, and four-year-old cousin Noor with deep wounds to their heads.

“We were attacked with sharp tools by unknown men who broke into our house while we were playing in our yard in the afternoon,” she said. A 60-year-old influential sheikh in her area is suspected of having plotted the attack.

In 2006, Sowsan accused the same sheikh of kidnapping and raping her. He was released in June 2007 by the primary court due to lack of evidence. Sowsan appealed the verdict but the case has languished. Sowsan claims that she and her family were subjected to harassment by the powerful sheikh and his followers after their release in 2007.

The security said that it held Sowsan's older brother, Mabrook Hayder, to keep him away from the suspects' relatives, who all belong to the sheikh's family.

Sowsan and her relatives left Amran Hospital the day after the attack. “We preferred to stay at our home instead of the hospital because we didn't have enough money to [get treatment] at the hospital,” she stated briefly.

Sowsan is the third of four children in her family. When her father died six years ago, her mother remarried, and she and her siblings had to stay with their 80-year-old grandfather.

Due to the family's financial difficulties, Sowsan could not continue her studies, and instead tends her family's flock of sheep.

Her grandfather, Mohsen Hayder, criticized the village residents “because of their silence towards Sowsan's case.”