56-year-old convicted of murdering his niece

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AMMAN - The Criminal Court has sentenced a 56-year-old physically disabled man to a seven-and-a-half year prison term for murdering his niece following an argument in October 2008.

The defendant first received a 15-year prison term after being convicted of shooting his niece to death on October 4, but the tribunal immediately decided to reduce the sentence by half because the victim’s family dropped charges against him.

One month before the murder, the victim went missing from her family’s home and when she returned, she went to live with her uncle “to protect her from her brothers”, according to the court

“The victim informed her uncle that she had been staying with a female friend, but changed her story when he discovered that she owned a SIM card and said she was staying with a man,” the court added.

The uncle informed her family about the matter, which led to an argument with his niece, during which she insulted him, according to court papers.

The court said the uncle then left the room in his wheelchair and returned with a gun, adding that he fired two rounds at his niece, who fell to the ground. The defendant then approached her and aimed at her head and fired one last bullet to make sure she was dead, according to the court.

He then called the police and told them to come and arrest him because he had killed his niece, the court said.

A postmortem conducted by pathologist Azzam Haddad indicated that the girl died as a result of multiple bullet wounds. The report also revealed that the victim was not sexually active, the court added.

The court rejected the defendant’s claims that he should benefit from a reduction in penalty as stipulated in Article 98 of the Penal Code because he committed the crime in a moment of rage to protect his family’s honour.

“It was clear to the court that the murder took place following an argument and not because the defendant intended to cleanse his family honour as claimed in court,” the tribunal ruled.

The court was presided over by judges Mohammad Ibrahim, Tala Aqrabawi and Hani Suheiba.

The January 29 verdict will automatically be reviewed by the Court of Cassation within the next 30 days.