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Friday, March 5, 2021

Police present evidence linking gardener to Qatar woman’s murder

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The trial of a Pakistani gardener who has confessed to killing an elderly Qatari woman resumed on Wednesday with investigators discussing the evidence found at the crime scene.

The start of the hearing was delayed when the lawyer for the 34-year-old defendant failed to appear.

The court learned he had resigned – the second publicly appointed defense lawyer to quit the case – and assigned the man a new attorney.

The defendant’s original lawyer quit during the trial’s first hearing in June after the man confessed to killing the 68-year-old woman in her home in May.

The woman lived alone and was the sister of the defendant’s sponsor. He was occasionally sent to her house to help with the gardening.

The defendant told the court in June that he was insulted by the victim and wanted revenge after she apparently spilled food and spat on him in anger several months ago and berated him.

During that hearing, he said he planned the attack in advance and, after killing the woman, cleaned parts of the house in an attempt to cover his tracks. But on Wednesday, a police officer said a damning piece of evidence remained at the crime scene that led investigators straight to him.

New testimony

Yesterday, the court first heard from a colonel in the Ministry of Interior’s criminal investigations department who was part of the initial team that examined the woman’s home and body. That team also sought out, arrested and interrogated the defendant.

The investigator said that he saw a name scrawled in blood on a bed that he made out 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 said.

The judge asked the defendant through a translator if he had written the name, which was in Arabic script. When the man said he had not, 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.

Later, a forensic investigator told the court that the woman had died of asphyxiation, which is consistent with the defendant’s earlier confession that he strangled her with an undershirt.

He added that her nose was broken and there were bruises on her body and face.

Court documents also state that DNA recovered from the crime scene matched that of the defendant, who 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.

The defendant previously told the court that the woman struggled with him during the attack.

Reporters and other members of the public were barred from hearing parts of the police officer’s testimony, as well as all of the evidence presented by the forensic investigator.

Midway through the colonel’s testimony, the judge ordered the courtroom cleared, leaving only court officials, legal counsel and staffers including guards. About a dozen members of the victim’s family also remained, some of whom had became visibly emotional during the police officer’s testimony.

After the court hearing, the judge disclosed portions of the evidence that had been presented during the closed session – but instructed journalists not to report on some aspects of the case.

After the two witnesses completed their testimony, the judge asked the victim’s family if they wanted qasas (retribution) or would accept blood money – a financial form of compensation – if the defendant was convicted.

Relatives responded that they wanted retribution, which means the defendant could face the death penalty if found guilty of premeditated murder. The sentence is still issued in Qatar’s courts, but has not been carried out in the country in more than a decade.

In June, the defendant was also charged with breaking and entering.

Absent attorneys

Three lawyers have now represented the accused man during the trial’s two hearings.

According to some local legal observers, the reluctance to represent the defendant illustrates the unique challenges of prosecuting a foreigner who has already confessed to killing a Qatari.

The man’s third attorney, Abdullah Isa al-Ansari – who was on call at the courthouse Wednesday to fill in on various cases as needed – represented the defendant without having any formal background on the case.

He told Doha News after the hearing that while the case appeared relatively uncomplicated, it is a difficult assignment:

“I think that the previous lawyers dropped the case either because they know the victim’s family, sympathize with them and feel a degree of awkwardness representing the defendant, or because they can see how an open-and-shut case this is and they know in advance that they will lose it.

I haven’t yet formed an opinion on this case, given that it was only assigned to me today and I still haven’t had a chance to fully study the files. However, based on what I have heard in court today, it looks like a straightforward case. But, I am determined to see it through and carry on with representing the defendant. If every lawyer turned down a case like this, judicial proceedings would take forever. This obstructs justice.”

The trial is scheduled to resume on Oct. 21, when the defense lawyer is expected to deliver his arguments.

Thoughts?

38 COMMENTS

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Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago

Conducting a trial with a lawyer that hasn’t been allowed to review the case and appears to already have his mind made up on the guilt of his client. Not recording a defendant’s response when it doesn’t help the prosecution. Some nondescript Arabic scrawl that suddenly makes sense (and gets attributed to a guy that needs an Arabic translator) when the police learn the defendant’s name. The judge picking and choosing what the reporters can write. I’m definitely not claiming innocence for this guy, but Qatar’s justice system one again makes a mockery of itself by taking what seems to be an open and shut case and creating doubt by its shoddy methods. I continue to sincerely hope I’m never a part of any legal proceedings while in Qatar.

Samuel
Samuel
6 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

Well what were you expecting from a legal system that punishes those who practice “witchcraft” more severely than those who are responsible for involuntary manslaughter?

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago
Reply to  Samuel

Sigh…. I don’t know. Maybe I was hoping that with enough incredulous DN comments they might get the hint. So far it’s a no go.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

khalid and khan do actually look alike especially if written in blood, the defensive wounds, the DNA all seem pretty convincing. the judge picking and choosing is probably to protect the victims privacy just because the name isnt mentioned doesn mean anything. qatar is a small community expats may not know who this woman is but pretty much most of qatar already does. its not that they didnt allow the laywer to review the case, its that every laywer that has keeps bailing, correct me if im wrong but a judge isnt allowed to force a lawyer to take a case can he? the alternative would be what? let the case go on for years because the defendant cant find a lawyer or let him defend himself?

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago

As I have no personal experience with blood writing, I’ll have to defer to your judgment on that one. Khan and Khalid have the same first two letters, but the ending isn’t the same.

Didn’t the lawyer say himself that he didn’t have adequate time to review the files? I know he knew about the case, but outside knowledge and reviewing all the files are definitely different things. I guess it just seems quite barbaric to me to just throw any old lawyer in there just to get the case over with. To me that says that everyone has already made up their minds about it when, as others have stated, there is enough doubt in what has been presented. To just get it over with (including not recording the defendant’s answer) means that it’s not even close to a just trial.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

“As I have no personal experience with blood writing, I’ll have to defer to your judgment on that one. Khan and Khalid have the same first two letters, but the ending isn’t the same ”

خالد & حان

the dot above the ن could have dripped down making them look alike especially considering the state she was in at the time of writing it

“Didn’t the lawyer say himself that he didn’t have adequate time to review the files? I know he knew about the case, but outside knowledge and reviewing all the files are definitely different things. I guess it just seems quite barbaric to me to just throw any old lawyer in there just to get the case over with.”

would it be less barbaric to instead give him a lawyer fresh out of law school that doesnt wana be in there who just goes through the motions as is the case for people who cant afford lawyers in the US?

“To me that says that everyone has already made up their minds about it when, as others have stated, there is enough doubt in what has been presented.”

even if we completly disregard the confession seeing as how people just dont trust confessions here (although at least in some cases a confession must be genuine sometimes)
the DNA evidence and the defensive wounds seem pretty damning. motive DNA and scars on the guys face from a fight seem to be open and shut. there is actually more evidence here than in the patterson case (another pretty obvious open and shut trial)

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

People who can’t afford lawyers in the US are given public defenders not “fresh out of law school” lawyers. I’ve had many friends who are/were public defenders. It’s the altruistic call of law. They all had decades of experience and were very dedicated to their job.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard
desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

No where does it say the lawyer was a recent college grad.
And obviously there are good and bad public defenders. The ones I know are very dedicated to the job and their clients.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Point is people who cannot afford to hire lawyers for themselfs are often given an unfair shake, surly that is a “barbaric” system that means if your poor you may not get a proper defence

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

You mean like here every time for the poor?

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

you have statistics? how many cases filed by poor people in qatar and how many times did they loose?

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Well I know the rich don’t even go to trial after killing children. Don’t even have to show up. Got those stats?

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Translation: I don’t have stats so I’m changing the subject

Airwolf
Airwolf
6 years ago

The world by design whether in US or qatar is stacked in favor of wealth and wealthy. Qatar has added challenge of not having case files in public record in order that academics can analyze and come up w stats of what is happening, whereas US more is in public record and over decades academics have done the research to prove Black Americans are profiled, prosecuted and persecuted far more than white ones. If a public record of accounts is created we might find that citizen arabs have an advantage or that non-citizens are profiled, prosecuted and persecuted more than nationals. Within nationals we might find that family of wealthy or those w specific last names or with spouses in positions of power such as ambassadorships abuse the justice system more such as not showing up in court rather than those without government jobs or fathers in ministerial roles.

How do we change things for the better that is the only question Allah will ask us. What did we do that was in our power to do?

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago

I’m not saying it doesn’t appear to be an open and shut case. I’m just saying that guilty or not, it doesn’t seem that the defendant is getting a fair shake, which is what everyone should deserve. It just doesn’t seem to play out as an equal fair shake across the board in Qatar, which is what terrifies me as an expat. There is a high possibility that if I somehow get brought in for something legit or something that the right/wrong person just wants to falsely accuse me of, I won’t have a fair trial. Bringing in evidence months later that coincidentally puts the nail in the coffin (even though it was shaky evidence until it needed to be firmed up, and it was denied by the defendant but the court’s official record doesn’t even show that) doesn’t require a law expert to identify shady dealings, and that’s just one of the ways the court is publicly bungling this seemingly easy case. How the evidence has been handled and disseminated in this case definitely give the impression that someone is hiding something, which goes against all principles of a fair trial.

Gareth Walters
Gareth Walters
6 years ago

This process must be devastating for the family of the victim. However I think, as i’m sure most people will that as long as proper justice is served then that is the best anyone can hope for in a tragedy such as this. It is a shame that the court seems to have to make evidence fit rather than doing a proper job. Could it be possible that the victim scrawled the name of her attacker in blood before she died.. why would this man write his own name and then deny it after confessing to everything else.. just seems a shame that they just cant quite seem to get it right.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Walters

“The victim had written the name with her blood”

What are you talking about? Who said the guy wrote the name and then denied it? The victim wrote his name

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Most strangled people can’t breathe much less write a name in blood.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

if she has the strength to fight back and leave scars on her attackers face then its very possible she has the strength to write her name

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

While she was fighting him off or after she was strangled? Either sounds impossible.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

It’s possible she wrote it while she was being strangled seeing how he used an under shirt, he could been choking her from behind, if she was on her stomach and he was on top of her back wrapping the shirt around her neck. It’s possible she wrote his name. Anyway with the DNA evidence and the defensive scars and a confession there no one has reason 2 write a name to frame the guy.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

But I thought she was “fighting him off” while being strangled. Sounds like a lot of physical capabilities for an elderly woman.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

the scratch on his face and the bruising to hers are consistent that there was a fight, the fight ends with her strangeled but she leaves a msg. how els do you explain it being there? as there is no need for tampering with a confession, DNA evidence and defensive wounds left on the guys face.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

People confess for many reasons and it is the duty of the court to find out whether the confession is correct or not before passing judgement. How they can do that when the defendents lawyers keep deserting him and he has no proper and prepared legal representation is virtully impossible.
I have no idea if the man is guilty or innocence but it seems the family wants someone to pay for this crime and the court is willing to serve this person up for retribution whether he did it or not.

When a teacher can get jailed on just the word of two Qatari students for the fake crime of insulting Islam, nothing really surprises me here anymore.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

the evidence seems pretty damning

Guest
Guest
6 years ago

Not really! So much information has been held back from publication that it’s quite impossible to judge.
There are so many irregularities in this case that it

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  Guest

Actually the evidence is damning. He had admitted killing her because she had insulted him pretty badly, and he decided to take matters into his own hands. The thing is, I don’t blame people for being skeptical because they haven’t given the full details of the case, and they should have. News of the murder spread like wildfire across the community and originally police were investigating another guy.

Airwolf
Airwolf
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Confession details are needed. The video of how and when he confessed w audio needs to be public. Was he beaten or threatened. According to above, victim died of asphyxiation, how did enough blood appear on sheets to write a name? Is there a photo of the name? Do we know for sure who wrote it?

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago

The damning evidence looks to be the DNA, his wounds, his confession, and the blood scrawl (pretty damning as long as it’s all airtight, but it doesn’t appear to be airtight). If he was regular gardener, it wouldn’t be out of the question that his DNA would already exist at the residence, so I don’t know if that’s damning unless it was found under her fingernails or something specific like that. He was apprehended six days later, in which time I don’t think his wound would still be “fresh,” which is how the police described them. He also could have received wounds in a number of ways in six days of walking around. As others have noted, we don’t know how his confession was given or possibly coerced. No recording of it, just the police’s word, and we all know how well respected the police are around here. And the blood scrawl was late evidence that the police couldn’t make out until they knew his name. The defendant denied the blood scrawl though “confessed” to the crime, though the court refused to record his denial. Again, it all seems very shady.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

So how come he strangled her to death but then she still managed to write his name in blood on the bed? And was there enough blood to do that when the murder was committed using strangling? Even though she managed to fight back and bruise him, eventually he finished her and left the crime scene, which raises the question: when did she scrawl his name? or is the whole name thing a different story?

I think it is important that the court gives more details about the murder rather than hold information and instruct journalists not to publish many things.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

he injured her face so im assuming yes there was possibly from a broken noes. i know people are hungry for details but the victims privacy is more important than your need for information

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

The victim has not been named and your point of the privacy would have been right if the judge requested journalists not to mention her name. I am afraid he banned them from publishing details that are very important for the public to understand how the crime happened.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Not mentioning her name doesn’t mean anything. Qatar is a small community all qatari’s know who she is, victims privacy is more important than the opinon of others. Especially since DNA placing him at the scene and defensive wounds should be enough 4 a conviction

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

So privacy trumps fair trial? Sounds like a crooked card game to me.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

no, privacy trumps giving you details about the trial doesnt mean its not fair

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

NO transparency is not one of Qatar’s strong suits in anything. Not being transparent gives the hint of hiding something.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

While I’m usually for transparency. In this case if it reveals details of the victim or her families personal life’s then I’m for keeping it out for their sake.

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