A Kuwaiti court sentenced a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife to death by hanging for the murder of a Filipina maid whose body was found in a freezer earlier this year.
Al Jazeera reported that Nader Essam Assaf, 40, and wife Mona Hassoun were detained in February in connection with the death of Joanna Demafelis, 29. Demafelis had vanished in September 2016 and her body was found on February 6 in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait City.
Demafelis’ body is believed to have been the freezer for at least a year. However, it’s not clear how she was killed.
The slain woman’s sister told CNN Philippines that Demafelis planned to return home in 2018 and that the family reported her missing after not hearing from her for a year. CNN reported that investigators tried to locate the missing maid through the Kuwaiti agency that recruited her but learned that it had shut down.
Interpol conducted an international manhunt for the couple shortly after the grisly discovery was made. According to Al Jazeera, Assaf, a Lebanese national, was arrested in Syria and extradited to Lebanon; Mona remains jailed in the Syrian capital of Damascus. The couple were not in the Kuwaiti court in March when they were convicted of the maid’s premeditated murder.
Agence France-Presse noted that Demafelis’ murder led to a diplomatic crisis as officials in Manilla to imposed a departure ban on citizens looking to work in the Gulf State. Approximately 252,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait to support their family back home, the newswire wrote.
“This is a very important development in our quest for justice for Joanna,” Philippines foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.
Assaf and Hassoun’s death sentences can be appealed under Kuwaiti law.
[Featured Image: Joanna Demafelis/Facebook]