MANILA: Filipino authorities said on Tuesday that justice has finally been served in the case of an overseas worker after her Syrian employer was found guilty of her murder in Kuwait last year.
The body of 29-year-old Joanna Demafelis was found stuffed in a freezer at an abandoned apartment.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that a Syrian district criminal court had found Mouna Ali Hassoun guilty of her murder, with a prison sentence ranging from 8-15 years expected.
“We welcome the news, which means that justice has been done,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said at a press briefing in Malacañang.
In a separate statement, Labor Minister Silvestre Bello said: “We are elated by reports that the female employer of Joanna has been convicted. We believe justice has been served.”
Hassoun was found guilty of premeditated murder by a court in Damascus. Her Lebanese husband, Nader Essam Assaf, is currently on trial for the murder in Lebanon.
The couple were earlier tried in absentia, found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by hanging by a court in Kuwait.
Demafelis’ family had called for the death penalty, but were reportedly advised by a relative that they should instead demand blood money as compensation.
Through a lawyer, Hassoun reportedly offered $50,000 while Assaf also allegedly made an offer of $20,000.
The family, though, have demanded $100,000 in addition to outstanding wages, future loss of income and the return of Demafelis’ possessions.
Her mother was quoted as saying that the couple may be spared the death penalty if they agree to the family’s demands, but would still face prison.
The couple were arrested in Syria in late February 2018. The case had triggered a diplomatic crisis between the Philippines and Kuwait, and prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to order a total ban on the deployment of workers to the Gulf state. The ban was lifted a few months after following the conviction in Kuwait of the two suspects.