Rapist slept for over a year after child sex attack due to rare condition

An alleged child rapist has woken up and been sent to jail after falling asleep for over a year on the day of his arrest.

Ahmad Ali, 28, spoke one time after he was arrested to profess his innocence before falling into a catatonic sleep and becoming completely unresponsive.

He was apprehended at Fiumicino airport near Rome, Italy, in July last year following an alleged sex attack on a minor.

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Italian judges initially thought that Ali, originally from Pakistan, was putting it on so ruled that he was able to appear in court despite being seemingly unconscious.

Ali was repeatedly ferried between hospital and prison, appearing in court via a video link but not answering any questions.

Medical experts told the court that he was undergoing "simulation attributable to Ganser syndrome".

Ganser syndrome is a rare dissociative disorder of which little is known. It is sometimes called prison psychosis as it occurs most frequently in lags.

It is sometimes seen as an attempt to gain leniency from prison or court officials.

Ali's lawyer argued throughout this bizarre process that his client was not fit to attend hearings, but on December 9 he suddenly woke up. He was immediately taken to prison.

Ali's next hearing is in January where he is set to address the court for the first time.

His attorney Donato Vertone told Repubblica: "Ahmed woke up and it seems to me a miracle.

"Credit to the Cardarelli doctors in Naples. Don't ask me how they did it, I only know that yesterday he was talking and walking but twenty days ago, due to the conditions in which I had seen him, I thought he would die."

Ganser syndrome is thought to be more common in prisoners with other mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, and is a response to stress.

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Other symptoms include giving nonsensical answers to questions, amnesia, hallucinations and paralysis.

Italian justice organisation Antigone reached out to neuroscience researchers at University College London regarding Ali's case.

UCL advised that a psychologist, psychiatrist and physiotherapist work on Ali in tandem. He awoke soon after this plan was put in place.

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.

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