The first hearing in the retrial of the man convicted of killing a British teacher and burning her remains has been rescheduled after the defendant’s lawyer failed to show up in court today.
This morning’s session at Qatar’s Court of Appeal was initially pushed back to later in the day. This was because prison officials had neglected to bring Badr Hashim Al-Jabar and other inmates scheduled to appear in court today to their hearings on time.
After arriving, Al-Jabar told the court that he had only learned of the court session this morning and that he had been unable to inform his lawyer. He also told the court that his lawyer had not been informed of the court’s schedule.
Today’s brief hearing ended with the judges’ panel agreeing to Al-Jabar’s request for a postponement so that he can be represented by a lawyer.
The delay came as a disappointment to Lauren Patterson’s mother, Alison, who flew to Qatar from the UK for the hearing.
“I’m frustrated and fed up, but I will be back next time,” she told Doha News.
Alison Patterson has traveled to Qatar regularly for more than two years and recently launched a fundraising effort to help cover her expenses and legal fees.
She said she raised some £26,700 within a week of launching the campaign and received messages of support from around the world.
“I can’t put it into words how this feels and what it means to me,” she said.
Guilty verdict thrown out
The retrial was ordered by Qatar’s Court of Cassation in early February after Al-Jabar’s lawyer argued that the Court of Appeal’s March 2015 decision to uphold his conviction and death penalty sentence was “erroneous and not based on a sound legal foundation.”
Qatar’s highest court took exception to two specific parts of the Court of Appeal verdict.
It said the lower court contradicted itself by first throwing out Al-Jabar’s self-defense argument, because it then suggested that he could have warded off Patterson’s attack by using a more appropriate amount of force than stabbing her.
Additionally, it rejected the Court of Appeal’s logic that the location and depth of the stab wound proved that the murder was intentional.
Lauren Patterson, 24, was last seen alive in October 2013 while leaving a La Cigale nightclub with Al-Jabar and Mohamed Abdallah Hassan Abdul Aziz, who was given a three-year prison term for helping his friend burn Patterson’s body and damage evidence.
The Court of Cassation rejected Abdul Aziz’s appeal request, which means he is not part of the retrial.
Both men were acquaintances of Patterson.
Prosecutors have argued that Al-Jabar had taken Patterson to a home he used for sexual trysts before “conquering her body” and fatally stabbing her.
They argued that the two men then put Patterson’s body in the trunk of a car and drove to a farm in Al-Kharrara, where they burned her remains.
But defense lawyers argued that there was no evidence to support this narrative of events, and maintained Patterson was stabbed by accident in a physical altercation with Al-Jabar that she initiated.
During an appeal hearing, a video enactment – filmed shortly after Al-Jabar was arrested – was played in court to illustrate this theory.
The next hearing is scheduled for May 1.