The supreme court has upheld the conviction of a father found guilty of sexually molesting his underage daughter. The offences were committed between 2010 and 2013 when the victim was aged between nine and 12.
The criminal court had found the defendant guilty on 26 charges, including rape, sexual exploitation of a child and incest, and sentenced him to 15 years in jail.
It did so based on the testimony of nine witnesses for the prosecution, including the victim—who was underage at the time of the trial — her mother, an aunt, a child psychologist and police officers.
The defendant chose not to testify in court and did not call any witnesses.
In passing judgement, the criminal court had found the victim’s testimony to be credible. It also recounted details from the sexual attacks, beginning with the victim’s rape when she was nine. The victim was raped on several occasions, with the defendant threatening that he would kill her and her mother should she tell anyone.
The victim first told her boyfriend about the rapes and sexual attacks in 2015, later also telling her mother. Her parents had meanwhile separated.
The case went to court, and the father was convicted and jailed.
He appealed his conviction saying that the victim’s testimony was unconvincing.
But the supreme court found that it was the job of the lower court to evaluate the testimony of witnesses that appear before it. The appeal’s court authority to intervene on issues of credibility of witnesses should be exercised with care, and only when the conclusions of the lower court are unreasonable and unfounded.
And it noted that the lower court, had found the victim’s testimony credible and decided that it could rely on it without supportive testimony.
“We do not find any grounds to intervene in the judgement of the criminal court as regards the credibility of the complainant,” the supreme court said in rejecting the appeal.
And it added: “The alleged contradictions of the complainant were not important so as to negatively affect her credibility. The criminal court moved within the correct framework and having the unique opportunity to see and hear the witnesses in a live court hearing, reached the reasonably permitted finding as to her credibility.”