Le­banese cou­ple sen­tenced to death for mur­der of Filipino maid

Arab News - - FRONT PAGE -

A Kuwaiti court on Sun­day sen­tenced a Le­banese man and his Syr­ian wife to death by hang­ing for the mur­der of a Filipino maid.

The court is­sued the sen­tence in ab­sen­tia in the first hear­ing in the case of Joanna De­mafe­lis, the 29-year-old maid whose body was found in a freezer in Kuwait ear­lier this year, a ju­di­cial source said.

The sen­tence can be ap­pealed if the cou­ple re­turns to Kuwait, the source said.

Philip­pines Am­bas­sador Re­nato Pe­dro Villa de­clined to com­ment on the ver­dict, say­ing his coun­try would await ex­tra­di­tion of the cou­ple.

The Le­banese-Syr­ian cou­ple were ar­rested in Fe­bru­ary in the Syr­ian cap­i­tal Da­m­as­cus fol­low­ing an In­ter­pol man­hunt.

Syr­ian au­thor­i­ties handed the hus­band, Nader Es­sam As­saf, to Le­banese au­thor­i­ties, while his Syr­ian wife re­mained in cus­tody in Da­m­as­cus.

Philip­pines Un­der­sec­re­tary for Mi­grant Work­ers Af­fairs, Sarah Ar­riola, was sched­uled to hold talks on Sun­day with of­fi­cials in Kuwait on con­di­tions for Filipino work­ers, in­clud­ing la­bor law vi­o­la­tions.

The De­mafe­lis mur­der trig­gered a diplo­matic cri­sis be­tween Kuwait and the Philip­pines, with Manila im­pos­ing a de­par­ture ban on cit­i­zens plan­ning to work in the Gulf state.

An es­ti­mated 252,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait and send re­mit­tances to help their fam­i­lies at home.

In the wake of the De­mafe­lis mur­der, Manila has been help­ing Filipino na­tion­als who want to leave Kuwait, in­clud­ing those who have lost their res­i­dency sta­tus.

Villa told AFP on Sun­day that his coun­try has al­ready repa­tri­ated 4,000 Filipino na­tion­als liv­ing in Kuwait with­out the nec­es­sary pa­per­work.

“We are now in talks with Kuwaiti au­thor­i­ties to se­cure an amnesty that will al­low 6,000 Filipinos liv­ing with­out pa­pers to re­turn,” he said.

The sis­ter of Filipino maid Joanna De­mafe­lis cries in front of a wooden cas­ket con­tain­ing the mur­dered woman’s body af­ter its ar­rival at Manila air­port. (File/AFP)

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