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20-year jail term for man who murdered sister over ‘family honour’

Court reduced initial death penalty sentence after victim’s family dropped charges

By Rana Husseini - Apr 02,2018 - Last updated at Apr 02,2018

AMMAN — The Criminal Court has sentenced a 26-year-old man to 20 years in prison after convicting him of murdering his older sister for reasons related to so-called family honour in Amman in January 2017.

The tribunal first handed the defendant the death penalty last week after convicting him of the premeditated murder of his 39-year-old divorced sister in front of a private hospital near the University of Jordan on January 13.

However, the tribunal immediately reduced the sentence to 20 years in prison because the victim’s parents dropped charges against the defendant.

Upon hearing his verdict, the defendant started screaming and yelling “criticising the justice system in Jordan”, a senior judicial source told The Jordan Times.

“The tribunal decided to hand the defendant a harsh sentence because his murder was committed in a premeditated fashion and because he had no right to take the life of his sister regardless of her actions,” the source added. 

Court documents say the victim was divorced and lived alone.

The defendant claimed that his sister left her family’s home for an undisclosed period and that “she was behaving in an immoral manner”.

One day before the murder, the defendant learnt that his sister contacted her mother, wishing to see her, so he grabbed a knife and accompanied the mother to the rendez-vous, the court maintained.

“When he saw his sibling, he had a quick chat with her, then pulled a knife and stabbed her repeatedly,” the court stated, adding that the suspect then “stood next to his sister’s body wielding a knife and asking people to stay away". 

“The man yelled at us: ‘This is my sister and this is a matter of family honour. Stay away everyone and let her bleed to death’,” the court maintained.

The suspect then waited for police to arrive while smoking a cigarette and turned himself in, claiming “family honour” as his motive, the court documents said.

The mother, who attempted to stop the defendant, testified in court that “her daughter was involved in immoral relationships almost five years ago”, the judicial source said.

She added that she had no knowledge of her son’s intentions to murder her daughter, the judicial source added.

The defendant attempted to claim that he murdered his sister in a “fit of fury to cleanse his 'family’s honour'”, according to the judicial source. However, tthe court rejected his argument because “he had prior knowledge of her behaviour and was in possession of two knives when he stabbed her, which means he came with the intention of murdering her”.

Assistant to the Criminal Court general attorney who represented the prosecution office in this case asked the court to inflict the maximum punishment on the defendant.

"What the defendant did is a heinous crime against his female relative and he therefore deserves the harshest punishment," she told the tribunal on Thursday.

The tribunal comprised judges Ibrahim Abu Shama, Hassan Majali and Azzam Najdawi.

The verdict will automatically be reviewed by the Court of Cassation within the next 30 days.

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