Attorney general to appeal ruling acquitting family of murder
By Rana Husseini
AMMAN – The Criminal Court attorney general on Saturday said he plans to appeal a June ruling acquitting four people of killing their female relative because the main witness in the case refused to testify in court against her family in July 2006.
The four defendants, the victim’s father, 56, mother, 45, and two siblings aged 16 and 19, were standing trial on charges of complicity in the premeditated murder of their 16-year-old female relative on July 17.
The defendants were accused of burning the victim to death because “she sullied their honour by going missing for a while”, the court verdict said quoting the charge sheet.
The Criminal Court prosecutor based his decision on a testimony by the victim’s sibling almost a year after the murder occurred which indicated that the victim’s family killed their female relative to cleanse their honour.
But when the woman was summoned to testify in court against her family in February 2008, she refused to take the witness stand, according to the court verdict.
The verdict did not specify why the main witness refused to testify against her family.
Therefore, the court said it decided to discredit her testimony altogether from the proceedings.
The court also decided to disregard the confessions previously made by the defendants saying that they killed their female relative to cleanse their family’s honour because investigators failed to follow proper legal procedures when questioning the defendants.
Criminal Court Attorney General Yassin Abdallat told The Jordan Times he will appeal the June 6 verdict because “the family did indeed kill their female relative”.
“The defendants deserve the maximum punishment. Even if one witness backs down, it does not clear them of committing the murder,” Abdallat said.
The original Criminal Court charge sheet said the victim was abused and treated badly by her family, spurring her to leave her family’s tent and head to the Family Protection Department to file a complaint against them.
“Her family became enraged when they learned she had filed a complaint against them and decided to kill her by igniting the tent they lived in and later claim it was an accident,” the charge sheet said.
On July 16, the victim’s family tied her up, poured kerosene on her and ignited both her and the tent, the charge sheet said.
“The victim screamed for help and tried to flee, but the defendants prevented her from leaving the burning tent until they made sure she was dead. One of her brothers then started calling for help,” the charge sheet added.
But the court decided in its ruling that the family never plotted to murder the victim and that the fire was “accidental”, acquitting the four defendants.
“The defendants tried to wake the victim but were unable to in time. They managed to escape the fire but the victim remained trapped in the tent,” the court said in its 10-page ruling.
The postmortem report indicated that the woman received burns on 96 per cent of her body and was charred beyond recognition.
The court was comprised of judges Mohammad Ibrahim, Mohammad Khashashneh and Eid Jararweh.