An Indian man and his wife were charged at a court in Dubai on Wednesday for repeated physical assault of his mother and unintentionally causing her death, Khaleej Times reported.

The 29-year-old man and his 28-year-old wife, whose identities have not been disclosed, tortured the man’s mother at their residence in Al Ghusais, a residential area in Dubai, Gulf News reported. The Dubai Court of First Instance said forensic reports confirmed that the woman had been starved, tortured and neglected for months leading up to her death.

The court said the couple tortured the elderly woman from July 2018 until her death in October 2018. A case was registered at Al Qusais police station. The couple denied the charges, but they both have been detained.

The woman suffered bone and rib fractures, internal bleeding and severe burns due to sustained physical assault and torture. The couple also cut out the iris in her right eye and part of her other eye, according to Khaleej Times.

An Indian neighbour, who is a 54-year-old hospital employee, testified in court that the wife had told her that her mother-in-law had come from India to look after their daughter. “She said her mother-in-law did not take proper care of their daughter and that the girl would often fall sick while in her care,” the neighbour said. “She wanted me to look after the girl until she came back from work.”

Three days after their conversation, the neighbour saw the elderly woman lying on the balcony of the couple’s apartment. “That woman was almost naked with apparent burn marks on her body,” the neighbour told the court. “I informed the security guard. Her clothes were sticking to her body and she obviously was in a critical condition and needed urgent medical treatment.”

The neighbour claimed the mother cried and screamed of pain when the paramedics tried to carry her because of the burns she had suffered.

A Filipino paramedic told the Dubai Public Prosecution that the man didn’t even walk his mother to the ambulance and was looking on from afar indifferently when she was being transferred to the vehicle. “Her son claimed she had poured hot water on herself when we asked him about the cause of the burn injuries,” the paramedic said.

An unidentified forensic doctor told the prosecutor that the mother weighed just 29 kg at the time of her death on October 31, 2018. “She was tortured repeatedly over a short span of time,” the doctor said. “Burns covered 10 per cent of her body. The bone and rib fractures, internal bleeding, beating with different tools, burns, negligence and starvation have all led to the deterioration of her health condition.”

The trial has been adjourned until July 3, during which time the couple will remain in custody.