A key suspect in the gruesome murder of a Filipino domestic helper found dead in a freezer in Kuwait has been arrested in Lebanon, the Philippine government said.
The Philippine embassy in Kuwait was informed of the arrest of the suspect, identified as Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf, on Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said he had informed President Rodrigo Duterte, who attended the wake of Joanna Daniela Demafelis, 29, in the town of Sara in central Iloilo province.
‘The president welcomes the news that Nader Essam Assaf is now in the hands of authorities in Lebanon,’ Cayetano said in a statement on Friday.
‘Assaf's arrest is a critical first step in our quest for justice for Joanna and we are thankful to our friends in Kuwait and Lebanon for their assistance.’?? Another suspect in the killing is Assaf's wife, Syrian national Mona, but she is still at large, the department said.
Duterte ordered a ban on Filipinos working in Kuwait after Demafelis' body was found stuffed in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait earlier this month.
An autopsy revealed she was beaten up and suffered broken ribs, internal bleeding and contusions.
There are an estimated 250,000 Filipinos working and living in Kuwait.
In ordering the ban, Duterte noted that 103 Filipinos died in Kuwait in 2017, up from 82 the previous year.
Since the total labour deployment ban on Kuwait was formalized on February 12, more than 1,700 Filipino workers have returned to Manila, and thousands more were expected to be repatriated, officials said.
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