A New Amsterdam man was yesterday sentenced to 25 years in jail for the rape of a teen girl in 2015.
Following a trial earlier this month, Wazir Ali, 26, an electrician, was found guilty by a majority verdict of raping the then 17-year-old girl in early April, 2015.
The man’s relatives and fellow church members erupted into tears after the sentence was handed down by Justice Jo-Ann Barlow yesterday morning. They told Stabroek News that the sentence was not fair, while stressing that they believe Ali is innocent.
The state’s case was led by prosecutor Tuanna Hardy, who called a total of five witnesses, while the defence, which was led by attorney Charandass Persaud, called two witnesses.
The defenve’s case was that the accused was at work during the month of April, hence he was not around to have committed the act. However, his employer testified that the accused only started to work in the second week of April.
A probation report, which was read to the court yesterday, described Ali, a father of a two-year-old daughter, to be a jovial, friendly, hardworking individual but who occasionally becomes aggressive.
His attorney asked the judge to take into consideration that Ali had never been on the other side of the law. He noted, that while his client maintains his innocence, he was concerned about the victim.
Persaud said in such a case, justice must be tempered with mercy. He noted, that Ali has a life ahead of him and he could continue to build that life once given the opportunity. He pleaded for Ali to be given an opportunity to redeem himself.
However, before handing down the sentence Justice Barlow told the convict that actions have consequences. She noted that the victim attempted suicide and became aggressive towards her mother and peers as a result of the assault. The judge also said that a message must be sent to other offenders or would-be offenders. She stressed that too often rape is being committed, while highlighting that it “knows no age or gender.”
She told Ali that he was responsible for taking the victim home after church but instead of doing so he took advantage of the fact that they were alone. She stressed, “A blind eye will not be turned.”
Meanwhile, the judge also spoke of media houses reporting that the teen is of unsound mind. She clarified for those gathered that the teen has a speech impediment and is a slow learner. She said the relatives of the teen, especially her mother, must have been hurt by the statement and she stressed that statements reported from the court must be accurate.