By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Malaysian student Ashraf Haziq Rossli recounted in a London court yesterday how his jaw was broken in two places after he was assaulted during the London riots of last August.
The Guardian reported that the 20-year-old told a jury that he was cycling with a friend on August 8 when he was punched in the face and had his bicycle and contents of his rucksack stolen.
Questioned by prosecutor Christopher Hehir, Ashraf said after a first group of rioters took his bicycle and rucksack, he was attacked by someone in a second group while someone took his mobile phone from his left jacket pocket.
“I turned left to see who took it and felt an impact from the right side. The impact was hard. I don’t know how it happened. I fell to the ground. Blood was coming out of my mouth,” he was quoted as saying by the United Kingdom daily.
A 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, was charged with the attack last September.
The teenager was said to be among a mob which tried to steal the white bicycle ridden by Ashraf. When his initial attempt failed, the 17-year-old punched Ashraf once, breaking his jaw in several places, prosecutors had said.
The accused admits stealing the bike but denies causing and inflicting grievous bodily harm.
He also denies a separate robbery charge in connection with events later in the evening of that day, including the looting of a jewellery store in which police say goods worth £150,000 (RM720,000) were stolen.
Ashraf, who had just arrived in London a few weeks earlier to pursue tertiary education, had become the unwitting symbol of the riots which saw looting and at least five deaths, 16 injuries and 3,000 arrests.
Footage of a mob surrounding Ashraf was posted on video-sharing site YouTube, resulting in British wellwishers pledging thousands of pounds in aid to the 20-year-old.
According to the YouTube footage, other youths seemingly acted as if they were helping Ashraf, while one of them opened his rucksack and removed several items.
The 17-year-old accused of assaulting Ashraf is not charged in connection with a later crime, in which the contents of Ashraf’s rucksack were allegedly taken by people posing as good Samaritans.
Two men are due to stand trial at a later date in relation to that attack.
Ashraf, who has two metal plates in his jaw, was eventually helped by members of the public and treated at hospital.
In yesterday’s hearing, Hehir said a witness, Weng Tsang, was watching the attack unfold as his girlfriend Diana Frutos Perez recorded the scene on her mobile phone.
“Weng Tsang clearly heard the youth shout ‘give me the bike’ as he delivered the punch, and he also heard this male and his companions laughing,” Hehir was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
The defendant was arrested four weeks after the attack and told police: “I can swear on my mother’s life, everyone’s life and my family I never touched him.”
The trial continues today.