A Doha judge has convicted a Pakistani man of killing an elderly Qatari woman in her home this spring and sentenced him to death by firing squad.
The man, Muhammad Zaman Zirdad Khan, was not present in court on Sunday to hear his fate. While the death penalty is still being handed out in Qatari courts, the sentence has not been carried out in Qatar for over a decade.
Khan had previously confessed to killing the 68-year-old woman, who was the sister of his sponsor. He was occasionally sent to the woman’s house to help with her gardening.
In June, Khan told court that he was seeking revenge after being insulted. Legal sources told Doha News at the time she apparently spilled food on Khan in anger several months prior to her death and berated him.
Khan said he ambushed the woman early one morning in May when she left her house before dawn to water her garden. He said he then hit her on the head and brought the woman into her house where he strangled her with an undershirt.
The confession was consistent with the findings of a forensic examiner who testified that the woman died of asphyxiation.
Court documents stated that DNA evidence recovered from the crime scene matched that of Khan. The 34-year-old had fresh scratches on his face and thumb – wounds, the report says, that are consistent with an injury inflicted by someone’s fingernails – when he was arrested six days after the woman died.
During court hearings over the past few months, investigators presented additional evidence that they said connected Khan to the crime.
A colonel in the Ministry of Interior’s criminal investigations department testified that he found a name scrawled in blood on a bed during his initial examination of the woman’s home and body.
He interpreted the bloody Arabic writing to read either “Khalid” or the accused’s last name, “Khan.” Once the officer learned of the gardener and his connection to the victim, “it was clear to us that the name was Khan,” he testified in August.
After Khan denied writing the word, the judge instructed the court clerk to note in the official record that the victim had written the name with her blood, as the police officer suggested.
During the last hearing in October, the defendant’s defense was denied opportunity to present closing arguments.
Apparently the lawyer, through an assistant, presented several requests, at least one of which was to call an additional witness. But the judge said there was no reason to fulfill the requests and that he had enough evidence to reach a verdict.
This morning, a large contingent of the victim’s family, who have been consistently attending the hearings, returned to court to hear the judgment.
A family member in attendance declined to speak to the media, but expressed satisfaction with the verdict.