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  1. ITV Report

Victim 'robbed' of justice after paedophile imam flees country during trial

  • ITV News correspondent Sejal Karia reports

A victim of a paedophile imam said she was "robbed" of justice when her abuser fled the country in the middle of his trial.

Hafiz Rahman, 57, had been on trial for sexually abusing two young girls at a mosque in Dudley, West Midlands, during the 1980s.

But halfway through proceedings, Rahman skipped police bail, boarded a flight to Bangladesh - was convicted in his absence - and remains at large.

One of his victims has now criticised police for failing to stop Rahman flee - something she said left her feeling "embarrassed" and "angry".

The abuse took place at Queens Cross Mosque and Community Centre Credit: ITV News

Nabila (not her real name) said she waited three decades for Rahman to be prosecuted.

Granted conditional bail, Rahman was present for the initial parts of his trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

However, on the final two days he failed to appear, claiming to be sick, before the jury retired to consider its verdicts.

"I'm just so angry. Angry, frustrated, every emotion you can think of", Nabila told ITV News.

"Sometimes I'm so angry that I could just scream and shout at the police 'why didn't you do anything, why didn't you just take him away as soon as he was guilty".

She added: "I've waited 30 plus years for this verdict. I finally get it and he just seems to just walk out the country, no questions asked, and I'm left wondering why; who's to blame; what's going to happen - but nothing".

It took over 30 years for Rahman to be brought to trial Credit: ITV News

Rahman skipped bail almost two weeks ago when he boarded a flight bound for Bangladesh.

At the conclusion of his trial, he was convicted of five counts of indecently assaulting his two victims when they were between six and 10.

Jurors were told Rahman targeted the girls on an almost daily basis between 1984 and 1987 when he was supposed to be leading Koran classes at Queens Cross Mosque.

One of the victims, now aged 40, came forward to police in 2012 but Rahman was not arrested until 2014.

Rahman is now believed to be in Bangladesh Credit: ITV News

Nabila said the abuse had stolen her childhood "innocence".

"I was thinking about things and doing things as a child that I shouldn't have been doing", she said.

"I was exposed to things I should never have seen or heard at that age. I grew up a hell of a lot quicker than other children".

Nabila said the initial relief of knowing the case had come to court has now been overshadowed by the feeling of being stuck in "limbo".

She added: "I just feel it was a waste of time. All that pain, all that hurt.

"Thirty years have gone by, relationships have suffered, my relationship with my husband has suffered the past four years... because it's been over my head, constantly".

Rahman was convicted of five offences Credit: ITV News

After Rahman absconded, West Midlands police said: "We have a successful track record of bringing historic sex offenders to justice even if the crimes they’ve committed are many years, even decades in the past.

"We’re determined sex offenders won’t escape punishment and we’d encourage any victims to contact us so that we can take action".