By Rana Husseini
AMMAN - A 19-year-old who killed his divorced sister in the name of family honour when he was a minor in September 2006, walked free from the Criminal Court on Monday after receiving a reduced sentence.
The court sentenced the defendant, who was 17 at the time of the murder, to serve 16 months at a juvenile centre after convicting him of stabbing his 24-year-old sibling to death at their family's home on September 19.
But the court ordered his immediate release since he already spent the sentence period in custody while on trial, according to the verdict.
The same court acquitted the victim's 55-year-old father, a truck driver, of complicity in custody in premeditated murder charges for lack of evidence.
Court papers said the victim, the mother of a 12-year-old child who had been married for over 13 years, asked her husband for a divorce a few months before she was murdered.
"When her husband asked her for the reason, the victim informed him she was sleeping with other men in return for money and no longer wanted to be married to him," the court verdict said.
The husband took his wife to her family home and informed them about the matter, then filed for a divorce, according to the court.
"The victim reportedly went with her husband to a lawyer's office on the day of the incident where she wrote a letter listing the names of all the men she had slept with in return for money," the court said.
When the victim returned home, her father tied her up in an attempt to prevent her from leaving the house, then decided to take her to his brother's house where she wrote a similar list in front of her mother, siblings and uncles.
"Upon returning home, the defendant, who was not present during the victim's visit to her uncle's house, heard about the matter from his father and became enraged," the court said.
The minor rushed to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and stabbed his sister repeatedly until he made sure she was dead, while his father watched, according to court papers.
"The father congratulated the defendant and told him that he had cleansed the family's honour," court papers said.
In its ruling, the court decided to amend the premeditated murder charges to a misdemeanour as stipulated in Article 98 of the Penal Code because the defendant committed the murder in a moment of rage.
"It is obvious that the defendant did not plot the murder and his actions came immediately after reading his sister's confessions," the court said, noting that the defendant benefits from a reduction in penalty because his sister was involved in extramarital affairs in return for money, which led to her divorce and "brought her family shame and disgrace".
"Her actions hurt her parents, brothers and unmarried sisters' honour and reputation and are considered by the court as dangerous and unlawful, especially to the defendant, since in our customs and traditions a man is valued by his sister's behaviour and honour among his community," the court ruled.
The tribunal comprised judges Majid Azab, Mohammad Khashashneh and Hayel Amr.
The verdict is subject to appeal by the criminal court attorney general at the Court of Cassation within the next 30 days.
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