UK editor should serve two years for Dubai killing, says lawyer

Former newspaper editor Francis Matthew had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for bludgeoning his wife Jane to death.

    According to the UAE law, a sentence can be commuted if a victim's next of kin waives their right to press charges [File: Peter Manning/AP]
    According to the UAE law, a sentence can be commuted if a victim's next of kin waives their right to press charges [File: Peter Manning/AP]

    The lawyer of a British newspaper editor convicted of killing his wife with a hammer has asked a Dubai court to commute his client's sentence to two years in prison.

    Former Gulf News editor Francis Matthew had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for bludgeoning his wife Jane Matthew to death at their home in 2017. However, a series of appeals has seen his sentence change and his case go before Dubai's court of appeal.

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    Matthew's lawyer Ali al-Shamsi told the court on Wednesday that evidence proves the crime was not premeditated and that he had no previous intent to kill.

    "Premeditated murder must have clear evidence or a confession," al-Shamsi said.

    "We are in the year of tolerance, your honour. This man lost his wife, his job and has been suffering as a result of this case. I plead that we take mercy on him," al-Shamsi told the court, according to local media outlets.

    Prosecutors have argued that Matthew had enough time to reconsider his actions when he followed his wife to the bedroom before her death, which showed intent to kill.

    Al-Shamsi also said Matthew's son previously dropped the charges against him, and that his wife's father, Jane's only other next-of-kin, was on the verge of dropping the charges as well before he died.

    "His son waived his private rights and the victim's father intended to waive his rights but he passed away. My client is suffering psychologically with what happened and seeks leniency," al-Shamsi added, according to the Gulf News.

    Under United Arab Emirates law, a sentence can be reduced if a victim's next of kin waives their right to press charges, but to no less than seven years for premeditated murder as is Matthew's case. Judges can commute the sentence even further for various reasons, including a suspect's age.

    Jane's brother Peter Manning however told the Associated Press news agency it was a "straightforward lie" for al-Shamsi to claim that their father was going to forgive Matthew before his death.

    Matthew had succeeded "in getting the court to blame not the person holding the hammer, but his defenceless victim", Manning said.

    The court is expected to rule on Matthew's request on November 27. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies