In a landmark decision by the highest court in Jordan on Tuesday, the Cassation Court decided to toughen a sentence against two men who murdered their sister in the name of family honor in one of the governorates.
“What the defendants did violates religious teachings that forbid taking the life of any human being,” ruled the Cassation Court, which is headed by Judge Hisham Tal, also the president of the Higher Judicial Council.
The two defendants were standing trial for poisoning their sister who, according to the case documents, fell in love with a man, left her family’s home and sought refuge with a community leader, a senior judicial source said.
The defendants visited the tribal chief and pledged not to harm the victim, who believed them and returned home with them, the judicial source told The Jordan Times.
However, the defendants forced the woman to consume a poisonous substance when she reached her family’s home, the judicial source added.
“The defendants watched the victim suffer from the poison and die in front of them, then claimed in front of the authorities that she committed suicide,” the judicial source added.
The convicts were sentenced by the Criminal Court to prison terms ranging from seven-and-a-half-years to 10-years in prison after the victim’s family dropped charges against them.
However, on Tuesday the higher court rejected the Criminal Court’s eased punishment and decided to increase the jail term to 15 and 20 years, announced Judge Mohammad Tarawneh, one of the five justices at the Cassation Court, the top judicial authority in the country’s legal system.
“We want to send a strong message to the people that killing women in the name of family honor will no longer be tolerated by our court and we chose Mother’s Day to send this message,” Tarawneh told The Jordan Times.
Tarawneh added that the ruling “will set a precedent and will become the rule in line of which other verdicts in similar circumstances will be handled in the future”.
“This will be the real deterrent to such murders because the exonerating factor will not be regarded by the Cassation Court anymore,” Tarawneh said.
In its ruling, the Cassation Court said that the “Criminal Court did not take into consideration the ugliness of the crime committed by the defendants.”
“The defendants lured the victim at night after assuring her that she would not be harmed, then forced her to consume poisonous substance and tried to stage the incident as suicide because she loved someone and left the house to get married,” the court ruled.
When they were exposed by the authorities, the court maintained, “they claimed family honour as the motive behind the murder.”
Meanwhile, Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI) welcomed the verdict, in a statement that was released to the press, saying it was a victory for women who are victims of violence and murder.
“Hopefully this verdict will be an additional supportive measure towards women movements’ demands to eliminate all the articles in the Jordanian Penal Code that offers leniency to killers in so-called honor crimes,” SIGI statement said.
The women advocacy organisation renewed its call to establish a national centre to monitor incidents of women and children murders, providing services to gender-based violence survivors and women refugees and fighting all forms of violence against women and children.
By Rana Husseini
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