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DOHA: A schoolboy accused of slapping a female teacher and stabbing her hand with a sharp pencil had been remanded in judicial custody and spent four days in the juvenile prison.
The boy, who is less than 12, was released last Sunday and the prosecution which had taken him under remand has filed charges against him after questioning. A juvenile court will hear the case.
The boy, a sixth-grader, had hit the expatriate teacher on October 15 in the presence of supervisors and several students during school hours. This is arguably the first time in the country that a schoolboy has been booked on charges of assaulting a teacher.
The incident took place after the teacher tried to stop the boy from misbehaving when she saw her making obscene gestures in the classroom. The boy refused to listen after which she called a school supervisor.
The supervisor was busy, so the teacher grabbed the boy’s arm and asked him to go with her to the former. It was then that the boy attacked her hand with a sharp pencil and slapped her.
The father of the boy told local Arabic daily Al Watan that he got a call from the school on the day of the incident following which he rushed to the school.
The school administration narrated the incident to him, but he said that when he asked his son what had happened, he said he had acted in self-defence as the teacher had hurt one of his shoulders with her nails.
The father said that he brought his son home that day but when he went to the school the next morning in a school bus he was asked to return home and the same bus dropped him back.
According to the father, his son was told by the school that he was barred for three days from that very day—a Tuesday—and that he should come back only on Sunday (Friday and Saturday being weekly holidays).
The case had gone viral on social media in Qatar.
On Tuesday the father said he got a call from the police at home and took his son along. The next morning, that is, on Wednesday, he said he received a call from the Public Prosecution saying that his son would be taken into custody.
The father said he took his son to the Prosecution and they remanded him in judicial custody and he was released only on Sunday, October 21.
The father produced a copy of a medical report of his son to the Arabic daily which published it and which shows that there indeed were nail marks under one of his armpits. The case is in a juvenile court, he later told the daily. The father said filing a court case against his son reflected badly on the school and its disciplinary mechanism, for if it had a tough disciplinary committee it could have handled his son’s matter. Contacted for comment, prominent lawyer Mohsin Al Suwaidi told The Peninsula yesterday that Qatari laws have no place for emotions and in their eyes a crime is a crime whether it is committed by an adult or a minor.
People under 16 years of age are treated as minor under Qatar’s laws but punitive provisions are the same for adult and minor offenders, said Al Suwaidi.
There is a juvenile court that exclusively deals with juvenile delinquencies and likewise there is a juvenile prison for under-trials and convicts who are under 16, he said.
According to Al Suwaidi, the complaint against the boy must have been filed by the school administration together with the teacher.
“The school must have studied the incident and decided to refer the matter to the police,” said the lawyer.
It’s a serious incident because it involved hitting a teacher with a device (pencil) and that too, in a public place, he said.
The assault by the boy would be treated by the law as an attack on a public servant while he or she was on duty.
The case would act as a deterrent for the boy. If he is not brought to book, he could in future attack people with dangerous devices, said Al Suwaidi.
The assault on the teacher was an attack on the dignity of the teacher and the school, he said.
The boy’s parents would also be summoned and questioned why their son behaved that way.
Al Suwaidi said that in the Qatari culture a boy is told from early childhood that he is a man and that he should always behave like a man and should not come home crying and that he should settle his scores on his own.
Asked why the small boy had to be detained in a juvenile prison for four days, the lawyer said that was provided for by the Criminal Procedure Code.
“It is within the law for the Prosecution to detain a suspect for questioning for three to four days. This depends on the nature of a case,” Al Suwaidi said.