With reporting by Riham Sheble
During an appeal hearing this morning for two men convicted of killing British teacher Lauren Patterson, a judge rejected their defense lawyers’ request to examine new evidence, and set an October court date for closing arguments.
In March, a court sentenced Badr Hashim Khamis Abdallah al-Jabar to death and ordered Mohamed Abdallah Hassan Abdul Aziz to spend three years in prison for helping al-Jabar burn Patterson’s body, as well as damaging and erasing evidence.
After the verdict was issued, prosecutors indicated they would seek a harsher sentence for Abdul Aziz while the defense said it would appeal al-Jabar’s death penalty.
Meanwhile, the attorney representing the family of Lauren Patterson said he would ask for the matter to be referred to civil court, where they could seek compensation.
All three requests are being dealt with by the same court.
The two convicted men – both Qatari – appeared for today’s session in prison jumpsuits and sunglasses that they eventually removed.
They were separated from one another in the prisoners’ box by convicts appearing in court for other matters. While al-Jabar appeared somber, Abdul Aziz could be seen smiling – a reaction Patterson’s family also observed the day the verdict was handed down.
During the brief morning session, defense lawyers asked the judge for comprehensive records from two phones belonging to al-Jabar, particularly calls between him and Patterson’s ex-boyfriend.
A compact disc (CD) of incoming and outgoing calls had already been submitted during the original trial, but the defense argued Sunday that it may not have captured calls made to a phone that had been turned off.
The lawyer alleged that al-Jabar called Patterson’s ex-boyfriend several times just before she died in October.
The defense has suggested that Patterson was angry at al-Jabar for preventing her from seeing her ex-boyfriend and struck him. This, according to the defense’s narrative, prompted al-Jabar to push her away in self defense and her to fall on a knife.
Patterson’s badly burned remains were found the following day by a Qatari hunter.
A prosecutor argued today that the phone records were irrelevant and that the calls – whether they occurred or not – did not change the facts of the case or nature of the crime.
He accused the defense of stalling in an attempt to prolong the appeal.
For his part, the judge rejected the request and said it should have been submitted in April during the first appeal hearing.
Patterson’s mother, Alison, attended today’s hearing and told Doha News that she was pleased with the pace of the appeal:
“The court process is proceeding swiftly and I’m being kept up-to-date on the case. I’ll be back on Oct. 26 for the next hearing. Coming back here each time is becoming harder, I guess because it makes the fact that Lauren is gone more real. It still hasn’t sunk in.”
Closing arguments are expected to be heard during the scheduled fall court session.
Representatives from the British embassy also attended Sunday’s hearing, but declined to comment.