4 Jan 2011

Canadian girl pressured to pray dies after being slapped in the face, father arrested for aggravated assault

The Montreal Gazette - October 11, 2010

Longueuil girl, 13 dies after father slapped her

'Ray of light' was under pressure to pray, neighbours say

By René Bruemmer, The Gazette

MONTREAL - A 13-year-old Longueuil girl died Saturday night as a result of injuries she sustained Wednesday when police say her 71-year-old father slapped her and she went into a coma.

Police said Mousaa Sidime, who was arrested for aggravated assault and has been detained since the incident, could now face a more serious charge when he appears in court Tuesday.

The girl, whom neighbours identified as Noutene Sidime, was found by emergency responders shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday at her family dwelling on Chambly Rd. in Old Longueuil when the elderly father called police to say he had slapped his daughter, Longueuil police Constable Mark David said.

“When we got there the girl was bleeding around her nose and she has been in a coma ever since,” David said.

Shocked neighbours Monday described the girl as a "ray of light" who played happily with their children and used to give hugs to some of the other mothers when she came home from school.

But neighbour Linda Robert said Noutene had been quieter in the last two years. Her father was demanding, Robert said, and could be heard sometimes yelling at the children or his wife. On the evening that she was struck, neighbours said her father was calling in to recite her prayers, as he often did. She was reluctant to go, as she often was, neighbours said.

"Even when she was young, she hated going in for her prayers," Robert said.

David said police were informed Monday that the girl died in hospital about 10 p.m. Saturday.

He said it will be up to a crown prosecutor to decide if the man will face a more serious charge. He was scheduled to be arraigned on the charge of aggravated assault at Longueuil courthouse Tuesday.

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The Montreal Gazette - October 13, 2010

'An exceptional girl'

Mournful classmates of dead teen hold hands around football field


MONTREAL - Unable to comprehend the shocking death of 13-year-old Noutene Sidimé, hundreds of classmates and friends gathered on their high school football field Tuesday morning to celebrate her life.

“Noutene, Noutene,” they chanted as they held hands in a circle as large as the field at École Secondaire Jacques Rousseau in Longueuil.

Noutene was remembered as a delightful girl who brought cheer to everyone she met.

“She was an exceptional girl – always with a smile on her face,” said Charles Levi-Kouame, a close friend of Noutene’s brother, Yacouba, 14, who organized the rally on Facebook over the weekend.

Noutene died in a hospital Saturday after falling into a coma last Wednesday. Her father, Moussa Sidimé, called 911, saying he had “slapped” his daughter during an argument at their Longueuil apartment.

The father, charged with aggravated assault, appeared briefly in court Tuesday. His bail hearing was postponed to Friday.

When paramedics arrived at the girl’s home last week, Noutene was unconscious and bleeding heavily from the nose. She fell into a coma and never recovered.

Charles told the crowd at the high school that they were all surprised and stunned by Noutene’s death.

“Noutene, you have touched us all in many ways,” he said. “I hope you like where you are. We will never forget you.”

Yacouba was given a huge cheer by his fellow students as he walked to midfield, where dozens of balloons were released in memory of his sister, a Grade 8 student.

Yacouba declined to talk to the media, but several of Noutene’s friends said they had no explanation for what happened last week.

Most people interviewed Tuesday said they weren’t aware of any problems the girl may have had with her father.

Some of the girl’s neighbours had told reporters there was conflict in the family because Noutene didn’t always want to pray with her family, who are Muslim. But several close friends disputed those statements Tuesday.

Longueuil police confirmed Tuesday that the death is not considered an honour crime, a term used to describe punishment meted out to those who fail to follow family customs or religious practices.

Xavier Audate, a family friend, said he never heard about violence in the Sidimé home.

“What happened to her is an injustice,” he said of Nou­tene. “She loved life and loved being on this Earth.”

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The Montreal Gazette - October 13, 2010

Accused praised as family mentor

Charged in death of daughter, 13 Relatives laud father, victim; bail hearing in aggravated assault case is postponed

By IRWIN BLOCK, The Gazette

The extended family of a 71-year-old man charged with aggravated assault in the death of his 13-year-old daughter has rallied in support of both the victim and the alleged perpetrator.

They carefully avoided any hint of blame yesterday and spoke glowingly of Moussa Sidime's commitment to his family even as they poured out their love for his dead daughter, Noutene Sidime.

Standing beside a makeshift shrine of flowers and notes from family and friends next to the family's modest apartment on Chambly Rd. in Longueuil, family spokesperson Mamoudou Kaba read from a prepared statement.

In it, 13 family members expressed their love for the "beautiful and intelligent" Noutene, who died Saturday, three days after she was struck and fell into a coma.

The family, with roots in Guinea, was "devastated" by the loss of the "beloved" teenager, they said.

She was "beautiful, intelligent and a brilliant student, much like her father."

Two years ago, Noutene won a mathematics prize and was making plans to follow her sisters academically, hoping to become a lawyer.

The accused was described as the family cornerstone, an architect with degrees from Columbia University in New York and Universite Laval in Quebec City.

They endorsed his character and contribution to family members' educational aspirations, saying he was the family member who advised relatives here, in the United States and in West Africa.

"Uncle Moussa sacrificed a comfortable retirement so his children could plan for a better future," the family said.

Moussa Sidime appeared briefly in a Longueuil courtroom yesterday, where his bail hearing was postponed until Friday. His lawyer, Marie-Josee Duhaime, said: "He is overcome by the situation. He is very sad."

Crown prosecutor Julie Laborde said she is awaiting results of an autopsy to determine the cause of the girl's death and whether a more severe charge should be laid.

If the death is related more directly to any blows she received, a charge of manslaughter or second-degree murder is a possibility.

About a dozen family members and friends were in the courtroom for Sidime's appearance. Among those at the hearing were at least two of Sidime's sons. Several of the women wore traditional garb. Some held their heads in sorrow, or hugged each other.

At the Chambly Rd. apartment block, a note posted on the door read, "The family is saddened." Reporters were asked to respect its privacy.

A shrine of fresh flowers and the girl's picture included handwritten notes from family members saying, "We love you, Noutene. Rest in peace," and "We are looking after the family."

In a shoebox were handwritten condolence notes from school friends.

"You will always be my friend," one said.

"You will be a magnificent butterfly," read another.

After the statement was read, family members removed the shrine.

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