A Syrian migrant on trial in Belgium for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter has offered in mitigation the defense that it was the first time he had ever consumed alcohol and that he had been seduced by the girl who he claimed is “older than that in her head.”
The Dinant criminal court heard how the accused, who had arrived in Belgium from Syria back in 2019, had allegedly raped his stepdaughter between January and March 2021 at their family home in the municipality of Doische.
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Authorities became aware of the sexual offense when the 8-year-old stepdaughter, who remains anonymous, became pregnant. She had initially been reluctant to reveal the identity of her abuser, instead telling authorities that the father was a 16-year-old friend. The pregnancy was dated by healthcare professionals at eight weeks before a voluntary therapeutic termination of the pregnancy was undertaken.
“We did DNA analysis of the embryo. They matched the stepfather’s DNA,” authorities told the court.
Following the arrest in September 2021, the court heard how the accused attempted to justify his actions on alcohol consumption claiming, “It was the first time that I drank, I did not know how to control myself.”
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He later suggested his 8-year-old stepdaughter had made advances toward him and wanted a sexual relationship.
“She’s eight, but she’s older than that in her head,” the Syrian male told authorities. “She came onto my lap and gave me kisses.”
In mitigation, defense lawyers for the accused offered the context that in Syria, young girls can marry at the tender age of 13, a similar type of defense used in other such cases, such as when an Afghan migrant raped a 9-year-old boy in Sweden.
“He wants to adapt to our laws and live in the Belgian way,” the defense added.
The prosecution has demanded a custodial sentence of a minimum of 10 years.
Judgment in the case is expected on July 13.