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Jury Gets Female Circumcision Case

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Accused mutilator Khalid Adem has been driven to and from his trial every day by friends and his defense attorney.

He has been out of jail on bond since his arrest and free to go home at the close of court each day.

But today Adem could leave the Gwinnett courthouse in a jail bus if a jury convicts him on charges of aggravated battery and cruelty to children.

Attorneys finished closing arguments Tuesday. Now it's up to the jury of seven women and five men to decide Adem's fate.

If convicted Adem, 31, could face 40 years in prison.

Authorities say Adem circumcised his daughter sometime in 2001 when the girl was 2 years old. Health and human rights activists refer to the procedure as female genital mutilation.

The mother reported the crime in 2003.

During closing arguments Tuesday Adem's defense attorney W. Mark Hill paid special attention to the women in the jury. He addressed them as "moms" several times as he made his points.

Hill had said in his opening statements that he believes the mother or the maternal grandmother of the young girl did the mutilation and blamed Adem because of a custody battle. During his closing statement Hill said there is no way that a mother wouldn't know that the cutting occurred.

"There could be seven moms on the jury. I propose that question to all of you, " Hill told the jurors. "Now moms, how in the world would you not know that your daughter had been circumcised --- for a year and four months?"

Hill told jurors to recall testimony from defense witnesses about the physical symptoms of a person who has been mutilated.

Expert witnesses said the pain is intense and that some young victims of female genital mutilation can't walk for weeks.

Hill said there is no way Adem could have performed the procedure and hid it. He said Adem was rarely alone with the child.

"It just does not make sense," Hill told the jurors. "Find him not guilty. The real person should be punished for the crime. The real person who did this."

Assistant District Attorney Marty First told jurors that their decision should be simple, based on their belief in the young victim's testimony.

The young girl, now 7, testified earlier in the trial and said Adem cut her.

"All you have to do is believe the 7-year-old who came here and testified," First said. "She told you what her dad did to her."

First attacked the defense witnesses during the trial saying they lacked credibility. First also attacked Adem, who testified in his own defense. He said Adem had lied about the date and the contents of a restraining order that his wife filed against him in 2000.

Even though the restraining order had nothing to do with the crime, First said jurors couldn't believe Adem's testimony because of that lie.

First reminded jurors that the young victim had several nightmares where she screamed "No. Daddy. No."Outside the courtroom this morning, the maternal uncle of the young victim said his family can't predict a verdict.

"I think the DA presented a really strong case," said Colin Dube. "But there are 12 jurors and all they have to do is create doubt with one. And you have seen they have tried to create doubt and confusion."

Dube said he was proud of his niece, who testified against her father.

"She is brave," said Dube. "Her bravery and strength has inspired me."

Copyright 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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