Filipina worker Joanna Demafelis was found frozen inside her employer's house in Kuwait in February 2018.
AFP, file
Syrian employer found guilty of Joanna Demafelis murder
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - September 9, 2019 - 2:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — One of the employers of slain Filipina worker Joanna Demafelis was found guilty of murder, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

According to the DFA, the Syrian District Criminal Court found Syrian national Mouna Ali Hassoun guilty of killing Demafelis.

"DFA will continue to provide legal assistance to the family until justice is served," the DFA said.

Hassoun is the wife of Lebanese Nader Essam Assaf, who is also charged with murder in Lebanon. The DFA has yet to provide an update on the case of Assaf.

Both Assaf and Hassoun have been sentenced to death by hanging by the Kuwaiti Criminal Court last year. Assaf, being a Lebanese citizen, was turned over to Beirut while his wife Hassoun remained in Damascus.

In February 2018, the body of Demafelis was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait.

The discovery of the slain Filipina in Kuwait pushed President Rodrigo Duterte to order a deployment ban for Filipinos planning to work in the Gulf state.

The Philippines and Kuwait signed a memorandum of understanding on the employment of domestic workers in May last year following the incident.

RELATED: Philippines mulls review of MOU with Kuwait after Filipina's death

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 9, 2019 - 2:21pm

The Bureau of Immigration clarifies that overseas Filipino workers returning to their jobs in Kuwait are unaffected by the government's deployment ban.

September 9, 2019 - 2:06pm

One of the employers of slain overseas Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis was found guilty of murder, the Department of Foreign Affairs says. Authorities discovered her dead body in a freezer in Kuwait last year.

"The DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs reports that the Syrian District Criminal Court found Mouna Ali Hassoun, accused in the Joana Demafelis case, guilty of murder," the department’s statement read.

President Rodrigo Duterte cited her case as among the reason for banning the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait for a time.

May 16, 2018 - 8:59pm

Upon recommendation of Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mama-o, President Duterte has instructed Labor Secretary Bello to totally lift the ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says — via Christina Mendez, The STAR

May 3, 2018 - 4:33pm

President Rodrigo Duterte's threat to ban overseas Filipino worker deployment to Kuwait and asking those Filipinos already there to return home may raise some medium-term concerns over remittances, particularly given the balance of payments deficit ($1.1 billion in the last 12 months), strategists of Nomura Asia Insights say.

Remittances from Kuwait totaled $790 million, or 2.8% of the total, in the past 12 months.

READ: Philippines is 3rd top remittance receiving country in the world

It says, however, that there are signs that Philippines-Kuwait relations could improve and that even if
a ban or incentive to leave Kuwait is put in place, workers may still find work elsewhere.

April 24, 2018 - 8:56am

President Rodrigo Duterte receives Kuwaiti Ambassador Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh in Davao City on Monday evening to discuss concerns of overseas Filipino workers and other sensitive issues between the Philippines and Kuwait, the Department of Foreign Affairs says in a statement Tuesday.

DFA says Ambassador Saleh reiterated Kuwait's commitment to protect and ensure the welfare of more than 250,000 OFWs working there. The Philippines, meanwhile, gave renewed assurances of the country's respect for Kuwait's sovereignty.

"We are optimistic that following our conversation with Ambassador Saleh early this evening, the remaining issues between the Philippines and Kuwait will be resolved," DFA says.

April 23, 2018 - 7:56am

Kuwaiti police arrest two Filipinos for allegedly convincing housemaids to run away from their employers' homes, state-run KUNA news agency reports.

The arrest comes amid tense relations between Kuwait and the Philippines over abuses of Filipina domestic helpers working in the Gulf state.

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa also faces questions as the Kuwaiti government summoned him over the embassy's work in aiding abused workers.

A viral video Thursday showed the Philippine rapid response team whisking an abused Filipina domestic helper away from her employer. The team locates abused Filipino domestic helpers who had requested to be rescued.

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