Monday, February 19, 2007

Man gets 3 months jail for honor-killing his sister

A Jordanian who killed his divorced sister over rumors that she had a lover was cleared of premeditated murder because he acted in a "fit of rage," after his family dropped charges, the Jordan Times reported Thursday.

The verdict was handed down Wednesday, five months after the 19-year-old university student shot to death his 22-year-old sister, 10 minutes after he was told that she had a lover out of wedlock, it said, quoting court papers.

The student, whose name was not disclosed, received a three-month jail sentence and walked free for time already served.

"The 10-minute interval between hearing of his sister's immoral actions and meeting her face-to-face is proof that he did not plot the murder," a court statement said.

The young man had turned himself in to the police after the murder claiming that he acted to "cleanse the family's honor" and initially received a six-month prison sentence.

But the court slashed the verdict by half and changed the charge from premeditated murder to a misdemeanor "because the defendant killed his sister in a fit of rage," in line with Article 98 of the penal code, the daily said.

It also argued that the "victim brought disgrace to her family and the defendant and tarnished their honor [because] her actions were against religion and social norms" in the conservative Muslim country.

The court said that it also opted for a reduced sentence "because his family dropped the charges against him and because he is a student."

Medical sources quoted by the Jordan Times, however, said that an autopsy performed on the victim after the murder showed that the woman had not been sexually active before she was killed.

But the court countered: "It is possible the victim had changed her clothes ... before she was killed to hide evidence that would show she was engaged in an illegitimate affair."

In 2006, at least 12 women were killed in similar "honor crimes" in Jordan.

Typically the killers go unpunished or are handed reduced sentences, often with little or no jail time.

Jordan's parliament has twice rejected proposed changes to the penal code that would impose harsher sentences on "honor killers," despite campaigns by human rights activists.