Man sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for 'honour' killing

Middle East

An Israeli court sentenced a man to 16 years in prison on Tuesday for aiding in the so-called honor killing of his sister. The case was unusual in that the women of the family broke their code of silence and testified against the man. (New York Times)

The murder victim, Hamda Abu Ghanem, was shot and killed in her home in Ramla, a mixed town of Jews and Arabs in central Israel, in January 2007. She was 18 at the time, and was the eighth female member of the Abu Ghanem clan to have been killed in seven years.

Previous cases against suspects in the Abu Ghanem killings had ended without convictions - mainly, according to the Ramla police, because relatives maintained a conspiracy of silence and cleared all the evidence away.

But after the killing of Hamda, about 20 female relatives decided to speak up, among them Amama Abu Ghanem, the mother of Hamda and of Rashad, the brother now sentenced to jail.

The case against Rashad ended in a plea bargain, and not a full murder conviction, largely because a key witness, identified by police only as Y for her own protection, disappeared about a year ago.

Before her disappearance, Y had told police that she had seen Rashad entering the family's apartment then fleeing from it shortly before Hamda's body was found. In the absence of Y, the court allowed the statement she had made to the police to be used as evidence against Rashad. Evidence of a shooting was also found on Rashad's clothes.

By: Isabel Kershner

4 March 2008

Source: New York Times