Saturday 21 July 2018

Suspect quizzed over Filipina maid found dead in freezer in Kuwait

Lebanese citizen Nader Essam Assaf was handed over by the Syrian authorities, a judicial official said.

Grief as the casket of Joanna Demafelis arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Grief as the casket of Joanna Demafelis arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

By Bassem Mroue

A suspect in the death of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait is being questioned in Beirut.

A senior official with Lebanon’s General Security Directorate refused to provide details other than that the man is being held by the agency and is being interrogated.

A judicial official said on Saturday that Lebanese citizen Nader Essam Assaf was handed over by Syrian authorities to Lebanon on Friday.

He said the man’s Syrian wife is in Syria.

The official added that it appears that when Assaf felt the case might be discovered in Kuwait, he fled to Syria along with his wife hoping that he would not be detained.

But the Syrian authorities did detain him and later handed him over to Lebanon as he is a Lebanese citizen, the official said.

Assaf and his wife are suspects in the death of Joanna Demafelis.

On Friday, the Philippine foreign secretary said the suspect is under arrest in Lebanon.

Lebanese media outlets reported that Assaf is from the north-eastern region of Baalbek but he grew up in a neighbourhood south of Beirut.

The February 6 discovery of Ms Demafelis’s body in a Kuwait City flat, where it had reportedly been kept for more than a year, sparked outrage and focused attention on the tragic plight of poor Filipinas toiling mostly as maids abroad.

It prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to ban the deployment of new Filipino workers to Kuwait, where many abuses have been reported.

Press Association

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