Man who killed girlfriend over Dh70,000 debt gets reduced jail term

Defendant said he didn’t intend to kill girlfriend over the money he had lent her to buy flat and spa

Dubai: A manager accused of killing his girlfriend over a financial dispute won his appeal on Sunday after a court reduced his life sentence to seven years in jail.

In April 2017, the Lebanese manager, 31, went to his Vietnamese girlfriend’s apartment to discuss the Dh70,000 that she had borrowed from him. A heated argument ensued and he ended up strangling her to death.

In March, the Dubai Court of First Instance gave the man a life sentence, after convicting him of killing the woman in a premeditated manner and stealing Dh6,500, a laptop bag, purse, wristwatch, six gold rings, nine earrings, nine pendants and 10 bracelets from her.

On grounds of leniency, the Dubai Appeal Court overturned the life sentence and reduced it to seven years in jail, after the accused pleaded not guilty and contended that he didn’t intend to murder the victim.

Presiding judge Eisa Al Sharif said the accused will be deported after the completion of his jail term.

“The appellate court dismissed the appeal lodged by the blood parents [claimants in civil right and the victim’s successors] and their lawsuit will be handled by the Civil Court,” the judge said.

A criminal psychoanalyst with the Dubai Police testified in court that the defendant was aware and responsible of his actions when he choked the victim to death.

“The defendant was fully aware of his behaviour at the time when I examined him following the murder. He was mentally fit and sound. I examined him twice,” he said.

How the murder panned out

On the day of the murder, the man went to the victim’s fifth-floor flat to discuss her unpaid debts. When she ignored him and went to the washroom, he followed her and choked her to death.

The victim’s family in Vietnam couldn’t contact their daughter for several days before they called up her compatriot friend in Dubai.

The friend said she called up other common friends, who advised her to go to the victim’s flat and check. “Her family called and told me that they had not been able to reach her. They sent me her address and before I visited her flat, I tried calling her too, but she didn’t answer. When I reached her building and knocked on the door, she did not respond. I checked the parking lot, and her car was there. When I asked the watchman, he said he had last seen her with a European-looking man entering the building. Her co-worker told me over the phone that he had not seen her, as he was in Saudi Arabia. Sometime later, he called me again and asked me to go to her flat. When I got there, I saw the police were already there and discovered her murder,” the friend testified.

The victim’s Lebanese co-worker said he asked a French manager at his company to follow up on the missing woman, before he was informed that she was found dead.

A police lieutenant testified that the defendant was the last person seen entering her flat, on the building’s CCTV cameras.

“We apprehended the defendant at his workplace. He admitted during questioning that he had lent her Dh70,000 to buy a flat in her country and open a spa, after she had promised to enrol him as a partner. When he discovered that she had not listed him as a partner, he got angry. He said they constantly fought in the last few weeks before the incident. On that day, he had an intense argument with her when he sensed she wasn’t planning to repay her debts. He followed her into the washroom, held her elbow against her neck and strangled her. He freaked out on realising that he had killed her. He then put her body in a bag and left, and stayed away until the police apprehended him,” the lieutenant said.

Sunday’s ruling remains subject to appeal before the Cassation Court within 30 days.


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