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Abused boy's dad: The first time I held him was also the last

Father of Daniel, who died from abuse by his mother and her boyfriend, talks about anguished search for his son after prison

He was in prison when his son was born.

Day after day, he counted down the days to when he could hold his boy in his arms.

But when Mr Mohamad Nasser Abdul Gani could finally do that, it was too late.

The only time he got to hold Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser was when he was about to bury him.

His son died on Nov 23 last year, about a month before his third birthday, after 25 days of sustained abuse by his mother, Zaidah, 41, and her live-in boyfriend, Zaini Jamari, 46.

Choking back tears, Mr Nasser, 41, told The New Paper yesterday: "I never got to see him alive.

"The only time I held him in my arms, he was a lifeless corpse."


Mr Mohamad Nasser Abdul Gani. TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG

He said he had spent 18 months behind bars from December 2012 to June 2014 for drug-related offences.

Two months before he went in, Mr Nasser was informed by Zaidah, whom he had married in Batam and later divorced, that she was pregnant with his child.

A few weeks into his sentence, Mr Nasser said an officer asked him to sign a document, which informed him that he was the father to a boy named Daniel.

This gave him something to look forward to after serving his time.

"I told myself that I would find my son after I got out," said Mr Nasser, who works as a cleaner.

LONG SEARCH

But after his release, he found out that Zaidah was no longer living at her old address.

Making it his top priority to find Daniel, Mr Nasser reached out to Zaidah's friends, tried all possible phone numbers he could think of and even visited places he thought she might frequent.

A year of searching yielded no results. None of his friends or acquaintances knew where Zaidah and Daniel were.


Mohamad Daniel Mohamad Nasser died about a month before his third birthday. PHOTO: ABDU MANAF AL ANSARI

Frustrated by each failed attempt to find his boy, he started losing hope of ever meeting Daniel.

Mr Nasser, who has two older children from a previous marriage, said: "I was not even given a chance to meet my own son.

"I did everything I could, but they could not be found anywhere. I thought that I would never see or hear about Daniel ever again."

About five months later, on the evening of Nov 26 last year, he finally got news about his son. It was a call from a police officer, who asked if he had a son named Daniel.

Mr Nasser excitedly said yes, thinking that after more than two years, they would finally get to meet. But what he thought was good news brought his world crashing down.

The officer told him the heartbreaking news that Daniel had died after being abused.

"I did not even get to see Daniel alive, and now they called me to identify his dead body," Mr Nasser said.

Putting aside his anguish, Mr Nasser went to the mortuary the next day and saw his son for the first time.

It left him in tears.

CUTS AND BRUISES

"There were cuts and bruises everywhere on his tiny body," he said.

"It broke my heart to look at him, my own flesh and blood, knowing that he had been hurt and tortured so badly."

Mr Nasser collected Daniel's body on Nov 30.

It was to be the first and last day that he would get to hold his son.

That same afternoon, he and seven of his family members buried Daniel.


Mr Mohamad Nasser Abdul Gani (extreme right) with his family members at the burial site of his son. PHOTO: ABDU MANAF AL ANSARI

His brother, Mr Abdu Manaf Al Ansari, said that though they did not get to know Daniel, the family loved him and wanted to make sure he was given the proper last rites.

"We are the paternal side that Daniel could have grown up with," he told The New Paper.

"Daniel was not an outcast, not from a broken family. He had a good family, only that he was denied true love from us."

Asked what he would have told his son if he were still alive, Mr Nasser broke down before saying he would have promised Daniel that he would be the best father possible.

"He was my own son, I did not get to do anything for him, did not get to hold him, or tell him that I love him," he said.

"I would have given anything for the opportunity to take care of him."

I did not even get to see Daniel alive, and now they called me to identify his dead body.

- Mr Mohamad Nasser Abdul Gani

We are the paternal side that Daniel could have grown up with. Daniel was not an outcast, not from a broken family. He had a good family, only that he was denied true love from us.

- Daniel's uncle, Mr Abdu Manaf Al Ansari

Italy outclass and outwit Spain to depose reigning champs

Gianluigi Buffon celebrates an Italy goal.
Gianluigi Buffon celebrates an Italy goal.

ITALY 2

(Giorgio Chiellini 33, Graziano Pelle 90+1)

SPAIN 0

The Spanish kings are dead. Long live the Conte.

Antonio Conte, that is, the Italian coach now collecting European scalps like a Roman centurion.

Spain boasted the better players, but Italy have the superior coach. Conte is greater than the sum of Italy's parts.

The man in black took on the otherworldly alien artists and ended their occupation of a tournament that began in 2008 and ended Tuesday morning (June 28, Singapore time) with a spectacular 2-0 defeat.

Stade de France witnessed the death of one party and perhaps the birth of another.

Conte has engineered a team of winners from misfits, journeymen and Juventus' defensive old guard, by fostering an iron will and a willingness to run superior opponents into submission.

The Italians really could keep on running all the way to Paris, after giving this titanic clash the performance it deserved.

After an unexplained security scare closed half the stadium for an hour before kick-off, there was an initial edginess to proceedings at a venue that was targeted during the Paris attack. But the tension quickly dissipated inside a wonderfully, cavernous arena.

The Stade de France isn't situated in one of the most picturesque parts of Paris. But the stadium is one of the greatest in world football; its circular roof keeping in the noise, if not the rain, which bucketed down on the referee's first whistle.

The weather gods appeared to conspire against the Spaniards, making short, neat passing difficult and favouring Italy's swift attack.

Conte made seven changes, as expected, restoring the regulars to face the unchanged Spaniards and the Italians exploded with the lean tenacity of greyhounds out of the traps.

Only two stupendous saves from David de Gea stopped Italy scoring twice in 10 minutes. The Manchester United goalkeeper hasn't enjoyed his finest hour at Euro 2016, but his reflexes are unrivalled.

He flipped like a salmon to tip Graziano Pelle's header around the post, but his second save was equally athletic, pushing out Emanuele Giaccherini's overhead kick.

The referee eventually awarded an (incorrect) free-kick, but de Gea's timely brilliance was warmly received behind his goal.

The Spaniards were outnumbered inside the ground, occupying only one corner whereas blue shirts were evenly distributed across the stadium.

As a result, every Spanish touch was booed, not that it mattered. Spain rarely saw the ball.

The rain eased off, but the Italians didn't. When Sergio Ramos clumsily brought down Eder 20 metres out in the 33rd minute, the tension was palpable.

Below the press box, Conte called out to the Italians and mimed a sideways shift, mimicking the decoy in the wall that moves aside to let the strike pass.

How the Azzurri complied.

Eder's low free-kick flew goalwards as teammates in the wall shepherded the ball through.

De Gea neither held nor palmed the strike away to safety, allowing Giorgio Chiellini to tap home from a couple of metres.

Questions will again be asked of de Gea's exasperating inconsistency.

Not that the Italians cared. A primal roar echoed through the Stade de France. The memory of that final hammering four years ago lingers. Wounds run deep.

The Italians were on Cloud Nine. The Spaniards were all over the place.

Only de Gea's fingertips kept Giaccherini's thunderous drive out as Italy charged down their opponents, denying them space and time to operate.

Teams are defined in their managers' image. On the touchline, Conte cajoled and remonstrated, demanding more from men already bullying their opponents. 

Vicente del Bosque was conspicuous by his absence, cowering in the dugout like a reclusive pensioner not willing to come out for his retirement party.

Conte's swift, counter-attacking was working so well that even when Spain increased the intensity in the second half, the Italians still conjured the best of the chances.

Eder raced clear in the 55th minute, but de Gea scampered from his line to keep his country in the tournament.

At which point, a red light suddenly went off in the collective psyche of the Spaniards, a creeping realisation that they were half an hour away from exiting a tournament they had owned for eight years.

Andres Iniesta, so quiet for so long, smashed a delightful volley, only to see Gianluigi Buffon palm the ball clear.

Moments later, the Italian veteran was at it again pushing out Gerard Pique's effort as the game turned into a frenetic free-for-all.

Even Conte had no plan for fatigue. Counter-attacking and containing the finest football practitioners of their generation took its toll.

As the clock ticked down, so did Italy's depleted resources.

And then, unexpectedly, gloriously, they broke free on the counter-attack - how else - and Pelle lashed home a volley from six metres.

Italians had finally exorcised those demons from four years ago. Spanish football was going home.

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