Lebanese couple sentenced to death for killing maid in Kuwait

The Lebanese couple who killed their Filipino maid in Kuwait were sentenced to death in absentia on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 02 April 2018
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Lebanese couple sentenced to death for killing maid in Kuwait

DUBAI: A Kuwaiti criminal court has sentenced a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife to death by hanging for killing their Filipino maid on Sunday. 
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 Lebanese man admitted killing the maid a year ago in what became known as the Freezer Body case. Following that, the  General Attorney in Lebanon charged the man with killing his maid and putting her body in a freezer.
Lebanese authorities arrested the man last month and he was reffered to justuice authorities in Southern Lebanon because he is a resident of Saidon, a city in Southern Lebanon. The man's wife, a Syrian, is still at large.
​Philippine 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.
 


UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

US Deputy United Nations Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, left, address the UN Security Council after a report from UN chief mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, shown center in a live video broadcast, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 at UN headquarters. (AP)
Updated 21 November 2018
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UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

  • Staffan de Mistura said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members

NEW YORK: The UN is still aiming to send invitations to 150 Syrians by mid-December to participate in a committee that would draft a new constitution for Syria, which is key to holding elections and ending the country’s civil war, a UN envoy said on Monday.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, told the Security Council that the UN also aims to hold the committee’s first meeting before Dec. 31.
But de Mistura said the Syrian regime is objecting to 50 members of the committee representing civil society, experts, independents, tribal leaders and women that he was authorized to put together at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in Sochi on Jan. 30.
Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members. There is already agreement on the 50-member delegation from the regime and the 50-member delegation from the opposition.
But de Mistura warned that if there is no agreement on the remaining members, the UN may have to conclude that it is not possible to form a “credible and inclusive” constitutional committee at this stage.
He said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members. But de Mistura said they must “maintain the same spirit of credibility, balance and international legitimacy,” and he stressed that the list cannot be filled with political leaders who are already represented.
The UN envoy said that at his last briefing to the Security Council in December “it will be my duty to explain where we are on the constitutional committee, and leave a clean and clear ground to my successor regarding it.”
De Mistura was supposed to step down at the end of December but UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday he will be staying on “for a bit longer” to make sure there is no gap “at an extremely critical time in the Syria talks.”