Dubai court hears French boy's rape testimony

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DUBAI, Nov 7 (Reuters) A tearful French teenage boy told a court in Dubai today that three United Arab Emirates nationals lured him and a friend into their car and gang-raped him at knifepoint in July, his mother said.

Alexandre Robert, 15, told a closed court session that he and the friend were tricked into getting into a sports utility vehicle by the youngest suspect, an acquaintance of the boys, who offered to drive them home from a shopping mall where they had been playing videogames, Veronique Robert told reporters.

Alexandre, dressed in a black suit, said he was raped by the three men. His friend, 16, was taken away from the car and not assaulted, she said, adding that of one the suspects has AIDS.

Alexandre had returned from Switzerland, where his mother lives, to testify in the hearing in the Gulf Arab emirate, a regional tourism hub which is hoping to more than double its visitors to 15 million by 2015.

The alleged assailants then dropped off the two boys near a Dubai landmark hotel, the court heard.

Two of the suspects, aged 36 and 18, stood in white prison uniforms flanked by policemen during the hearing. Both men deny the charges.

The third suspect, 17, is being tried in a juvenile court.

A source present at the hearing said one of the defendants angrily protested after the victim's attorney asked for the suspects to be tested for AIDS and hepatitis.

The trial, which will resume on Nov. 11, attracted local, French, US and Swiss media.

IN ANOTHER LIGHT ''I'm not ashamed to tell the truth and only the truth. I feel relieved ... and angry,'' Alexandre said outside the court after giving his testimony. ''I see Dubai in another light.'' Dubai, one of fastest-growing cities in the world, is home to man-made island resorts and covered desert ski slope, and is building the world's largest theme park.

Veronique Robert, a Swiss national, accused UAE authorities of deliberately not informing the family that one of the suspected rapists tested HIV-positive in 2003, delaying medical attention for her son.

''We needed to start treatment ... a week after the case, but because the Dubai authorities didn't tell us, we weren't able to,'' she said. ''AIDS is a taboo subject here ... The government played with the life of my child.'' Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim brushed aside the accusations, but declined to give further comments on the ongoing case. ''The case is a court case ... I think she is blaming everyone ...'' Members of the defendants' family were not present at the hearing. The defence lawyer was not available for comment.

REUTERS NC KP2055

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