Manila hails conviction of Filipina’s murderer in Syria

Residents display placards, as they wait for the arrival of the body of Joanna Demafelis, a Filipina domestic helper who was killed and found inside a freezer in Kuwait, in her hometown in Iloilo province. (Reuters/File)
Updated 10 September 2019

Manila hails conviction of Filipina’s murderer in Syria

  • Demafelis’ family had called for the death penalty, but were reportedly advised by a relative that they should instead demand blood money as compensation

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.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 15 September 2019

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.