Two men convicted of complicity in 2008 ‘honour’ murder

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AMMAN - After declaring them innocent in January 2009, the Criminal Court last week sentenced two cousins to five-year prison terms for complicity in murdering their female relative and her alleged lover in 2008.

On January 30, 2009, the Criminal Court sentenced a 19-year-old shepherd to six months in prison after convicting him of shooting to death his 23-year-old sister and a 17-year-old Syrian after spotting them walking together in the early hours of March 8, 2008.

The same court acquitted the defendant’s two cousins, aged 31 and 33, on charges of complicity in the murder for lack of evidence.

But after reviewing the verdicts, the Cassation Court decided to uphold the verdict for the 19-year-old brother and overturn the acquittals of the two cousins.

The Cassation Court stated that the two defendants took part in the murders because they pinned down the Syrian and provided the weapon the brother used to kill his sibling,” and returned the case to the Criminal Court asking for convictions against the two cousins.

On December 31, the Criminal Court convicted both men on charges of complicity in murder and handed them 10-year prison terms that were immediately reduced by half.

“The tribunal reduced the sentence because the victim’s family did not file charges against the defendants and because the acts the victims committed were dangerous to the tribal honour and traditions of their community,” the court said in its ruling.

Criminal Court transcripts said the Syrian man had worked with the defendant for almost a year before the incident at a farm, where he met the defendant’s sister.

The two established a relationship without anyone’s knowledge and exchanged love letters, the court said.

One day before the murder, the Syrian shepherd visited the defendant and asked to spend the night in his tent, the court added.

At around 100am, the defendant woke up and was unable to find the Syrian or his sister, so he woke his two cousins and they found the pair walking together in a forested area, according to the court.

The defendant shot the two victims with the help of the cousins, the court added.

A coroner’s medical report indicated that the woman received four bullet wounds, while the shepherd was shot six times.

A postmortem conducted on the woman indicated that she had not engaged in any sexual activity.

The court decided to amend the premeditated murder charges against the 19-year-old defendant to a misdemeanour as stipulated in Article 98 of the Penal Code, because the defendant “committed his crime in a moment of rage”.

“The pair’s actions, mainly his sister’s dreadful act of walking with the Syrian at night, caused the defendant to lose his balanced thinking and his self-control,” the court said in its 12-page ruling last January.

The defendant benefits from a reduction in penalty because of the unlawful and dangerous acts committed by the two victims, which tarnished his honour and brought him shame, the court added.

The tribunal comprised judges Mohammad Khashashneh, Jamal Zu’bi and Hayel Amr.

The verdict will be reviewed for the second time at the Cassation Court within the next 30 days.