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Man jailed for killing girlfriend over Dh70,000 debt

Defendant had heated argument with victim, followed her into washroom and elbow-choked her

Dubai: A manager has been jailed for life for suffocating his girlfriend with his elbow and killing her in her apartment over an alleged financial dispute. The 31-year-old Lebanese manager visited his Vietnamese girlfriend’s apartment to discuss the issue of Dh70,000 that she had borrowed from him before engaging in a heated argument and he ended up choking her to death in April 2017.

On Monday, the Dubai Court of First Instance convicted the Lebanese defendant of premeditatedly killing the victim and stealing her Dh6,500, laptop bag, purse, wristwatch, six gold rings, nine earrings, nine pendants and 10 bracelets.

Presiding judge Urfan Omar said the accused, who had pleaded not guilty, will be deported following the completion of his punishment.

A criminal psychoanalyst, who is a police lieutenant, testified in court that the accused was aware and responsible of his actions when he suffocated 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,” the lieutenant in Dubai Police’s criminal psychoanalysis department said.

According to the primary ruling, presiding judge Omar said the civil lawsuit that was filed by the deceased’s family will be referred to the Dubai Civil Court.

Records said the Lebanese went to the victim’s fifth-floor flat to discuss her unpaid debts and when she ignored him and went to the washroom, he followed her and choked her to death.

The victim’s family in Vietnam lost contact with their daughter for several days before they called up her countrywoman friend.

The Vietnamese friend said she called up common friends who advised her to go to her flat and check.

“Her family called me and told me that they had not been able to reach her. They sent me her address and before I visited her flat, I called her repeatedly but she didn’t answer. When I reached her building and knocked at the door, she did not respond … when I checked the parking lot, I found that her car was there. When I asked the watchman about her, he told me that 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 back and asked me to go to her flat … when I reached the flat, I saw the police already there and came to know that she had been murdered,” the friend testified.

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

A police lieutenant testified that the defendant was the last person who was seen entering her flat through the buildings CCTV cameras.

“We apprehended the defendant at his workplace. He admitted during questioning that she had been his girlfriend for six months. He said that he lent her Dh50,000 to buy a flat in her country and then later she asked him for more money to open a spa. He said that he lent her another Dh20,000 after she had promised to enrol him as a partner … but when he discovered that she had not listed him as a partner, he got angry. When her attitude changed towards him, according to the Lebanese’s statement, and she became unfriendly with him, he was disturbed and annoyed. He said that in the last few weeks before the incident they constantly argued and fought. On the day of the incident he said he had an intense argument with her when he sensed that she was not planning to repay her debts … he followed her into her washroom and choked her with her elbow. He said that he panicked and freaked out when he realised that he had killed her. He said he put her body in a bag and left … he stayed away until the police apprehended him,” the lieutenant said.

Monday’s ruling remains subject to appeal within 15 days.

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