Judge says veil would obscure ability to assess woman’s demeanour
Source: CBC News
An Ontario judge ruled today that a woman accusing two family members of molesting her as a child must remove her face veil during testimony. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)
Justice Norris Weisman announced his decision after applying a new testset out by the Supreme Court of Canada dealing with witnesses wearing a veil. The woman at the centre of the case is known only as N.S.
“I conclude that to permit N.S. to testify at the preliminary inquiry with her face obscured by the niqab will impair defence counsels’ ability to assess her demeanour, as well as the [judge’s] ability to assess her credibility,” Weisman said.
The woman has been fighting for six years for the right to wear her niqab during the trial of her uncle and cousin, who are accused of sexually assaulting her when she was a child in the 1980s.
Weisman had first ruled in 2008 that N.S. must remove her niqab during testimony. That decision was appealed all the way up to Supreme Court.
The test set out by Canada’s top court in December includes four issues a judge must consider, including: the potential witness’s depth of religious belief, and whether the veil could lessen the fairness of the trial.
The preliminary hearing for the two relatives accused of sexually abusing the woman is scheduled to begin next week, but her lawyer said the ruling on the niqab will be appealed.
About to turn 75, Judge Weisman is set to retire on May 1.
A teenager accused of raping an 11-year-old girl in a park had attacked another schoolgirl a year before, a court has been told.
He is on trial accused of raping a girl after following her home from school on a bus and dragging her into a park in Enfield, north London, last November.
Mr Jaji, of Edmonton, denies rape.
He followed the girl, dragged her into Jubilee Park and subjected her to a three-hour ordeal, the Old Bailey heard.
Her glove had been stuffed in her mouth and she had been stripped and assaulted.
DNA in park
The girl ran home dishevelled and bleeding and later underwent surgery for her injuries, the court heard.
He claimed her DNA found on his bag, trainer shoe and the waistband of his boxer shorts was from when he went into the park later that evening, the jury heard.
But Rosina Cottage, QC, prosecuting, said it was “not a coincidence” that Mr Jaji had sexually assaulted and robbed a girl before.
Miss Cottage said a tie had been placed in that girl’s mouth by Mr Jaji.
She added: “He had an interest in pre-pubescent girls and sexual acts with pre-pubescent girls.”
Mr Jaji had been arrested a few days later after CCTV was viewed, and his bedroom searched.
A book about a little girl being sexually assaulted was found, along with adverts for child care vacancies and a picture of a little girl in Australia marked FC – a possible reference to Facebook, the court heard.
There was also an article about missing schoolgirl April Jones.
‘Dishevelled and panicky’
Miss Cottage said: “She got on the bus with her friend and they were giggling and chatting.
“Also on the bus was a young male, the defendant. He watched her get off the bus and followed her.
“He dragged her into a local park in the dark and raped her. She ran home bleeding and injured. Her blood and DNA were found on his clothes and bag.”
Miss Cottage said the girl had been expected home by 17:00 GMT and her parents rang police by 17:30 after she failed to turn up.
The girl appeared at 20:00 “dishevelled, dirty and panicky”.
“She had a crop-top bra in her hand and said she had been attacked,” Miss Cottage said.
The girl said her attacker “had kept making fists and cracking his knuckles”.
She said when they were in the park, he kept asking for her phone – which she did not have – her Oyster travel card and her keys.
At one point, he threatened to stab her if she moved and caught her when she tried to run away, the jury was told.
He had also threatened to film her and send copies to children at her school, she said.
The trial was adjourned until Thursday.